HISTORICAL SITES OF GREAT BERNERA

There are over 140 sites of historical or archaeological interest on the Islands of Great Bernera, Little Bernera and the area of Tir Mor on the Lewis mainland leading to Bernera. Here is an introduction to some of the main ones that can be visited.

 
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BERNERA BRIDGE

 

The Bridge Over the Atlantic.

After WW1 the people on Bernera released how isolated the island was and started a campaign for a permanent connection to the Lewis mainland. It was not until 1951 that public funding was granted and construction took place of the world's first pre-stressed concrete bridge, which opened in 1953.

Today the white painted bridge is the life line of Bernera without which it is unlikely there would be permanent residents on Bernera.

Many people come to the bridge just to be able to walk over the Atlantic.

There is a car park at Bernera end of Bridge and it is approximately 2 miles north to Bernera Museum where the full story of the bridge can be discovered.

OS Explorer Map 458 grid ref 165344.

A regular structural survey of the bridge was completed in the summer of 2020 which discovered that there are serious faults to the structure of the bridge now. A new bridge will be built in the early part if 2021 and currents the old bridge gas a 7.5T weight limit on it.

 
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STANDING STONES

 

This unusual half circle of Standing Stones is known as Callanish VIII and can be found at the Bernera end of the 'Bridge Over the Atlantic' just a two minute walk up a few steps from the bridge car park.

This provocative site has good views east and west and well worth a look. You can walk from here along the west coast to Hacklete. It is said on a calm sunny winter's day two shadows can be seen from these stones, one from the sun and one from the sun's reflection off the sea loch.

There is a car park at Bernera end of Bridge and it is approximately 2 miles north to Bernera Museum.

OS Explorer Map 458 grid ref 165344.

 
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DUN BHARABHAT

 

The Dun on the island.

The best preserved of four Duns, or Broch’s, that are known on Bernera. Built on a small island in Loch Bharabhat it can be reached via a small causeway when water is low enough, but needs great care.

While stones from the other Duns have been robbed for re-use in building there is still a substantial amount left of Dun Bharabhat probably due to being on an island.

There is a marked path to the Dun. Park at the cattle grid about 1 mile north of the Bernera bridge. A brown path-sign on the west side of the road shows the start of the walk and green topped posts direct the way. It is a distance of about half a mile round trip. Walking is moderate with two low stiles to cross.

More information on the Bernera Duns can be found in the Bernera Museum which is about 1 mile north from the cattle grid.

OS Explorer Map 458 grid ref 156355.

 
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BERNERA RIOT CAIRN

 

This cairn is a memorial to the people of Bernera who in 1874 rose up to protest about 57 eviction notices given to the people of Bernera and the chasing off of the factor. Followed by the arrest and imprisonment of a Bernera man in Stornoway. Over 150 Bernera and Uig people marched on Stornoway where the police inspector read the Riot Act, hence the name. Three weeks later three Bernera men were arrested and taken to trial where they were all found not guilty.

Following this action political moves took place that eventually lead to the ‘Crofting Act’.

The cairn is built from stones from every croft on Bernera and Tir Mor and capped by three stones from the crofts of the three men taken to trail.

The cairn is approximately half a  mile north of the Bernera Museum at the junction of the Tobson and Bosta roads.

The full story of this action can be read in the museum.

OS Explorer Map 458 grid ref 152377.

 
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NORSE MILL

 

One of several “Norse Mills” to be found on Bernera and Lewisl.  This one has been reconstructed by the Bernera Historical Society, and in 2018 was reroofed with local cut turf by local volunteers.

It's a small bee-hive structure with two floors, milling on top and the water chase below. The water to power the mill came from the loch above the mill and was controlled through a mill race channel, not currently in use. The milling equipment can be seen inside the mill.

There is a marked walk to the mill of about two miles round trip, Start at the Museum car park and follow the brown signs on the road to the East. At the end of the road go through the marked gate and the follow the red-topped posts over the ridge to find the Norse Mill by the shore. The going is moderate to rough with some steep slopes and rocky patches and boggy ground.

OS Explorer Map 458 grid ref 167371.

 
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LOCH RISAY LOBSTER POND

 

The first and biggest Lobster Pond built on Bernera this example was built by Murdo Morrison of Croir during the 1870’s after he had spent two years working in Australia to raise the funds for this project. It was as result of the local fishermen getting poor returns for live lobsters sent to London. They were able to catch and keep lobsters in this tidal dammed sea loch until such times as the price was higher or the weather conditions meant that more lobsters would arrive alive after the long journey by cart, ferry and train to London.

The Pond was used until the 1950’s and the main structure is still working to this day.

The full story of the Lobster Pond can be found in Bernera Museum.

There is no way-marked path to the Lobster Pond, although it can be reached from either Kirkibost, (parking at the pier), or from Bernera Museum car park and following the Norse Mill walk to start with. It is approximately a five mile round trip. The going is moderate to rough with some steep slopes and rocky patches, burns and boggy ground to cross. There is one dry-stane dike to climb over via built-in steps.

We recommend going over Cnoc Righseodh rather than along coastal slope.

OS Explorer Map 458 grid ref 173373.

 
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BOSTA TIDE & TIME BELL

 

Erected at Bosta beach in 2010 this sculpture by Marcus Vergette is one of several around the coast of the UK, with more planned, that were inspired by the ringing of church bells marking the end of the 2001 'Foot an Mouth' outbreak in the UK.

Now owned by the community it rings by action of the waves going in and out with the tide. The original wave-catcher from the bell can be found at the Community Center as it did not stand the first winter storms off the Atlantic.

More information on the Bosta Bell and the whole can be found in Bernera Museum.

The Bell project website also have further information 

http://www.timeandtidebell.org/


Bosta car park is at the north end of Bernera about three miles north of the Bernera Museum, the bell on is on beach.

OS Explorer Map 458 grid ref 137401.