1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Small Isles

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

SMALL ISLES, a parish of islands of the Inner Hebrides, Inverness-shire, Scotland. It consists of the islands of Canna, Sanday, Rum, Eigg and Muck, lying, in the order named, like a crescent with a trend from N.W. to S.E., Canna being the most northerly and Muck the most southerly. They are separated from Skye by Cuillin Sound and from the mainland by the Sound of Ardnamurchan. The surface is moorland, pasture and mountain. They are rich in sea-fowl, the most common being the eider duck, puffin, Manx shearwater, black guillemot, kittiwake and herring gull. The fisheries include cod, ling and herring. The rainfall amounts to 56 in. for the year, and the temperature is fairly high, the mean for the year being 47 5' F. Steamers call at Eigg at regular intervals and less often at Rum and Canna. Canna (pop. 49), an island of basaltic rock, is situated about 10 m. from the nearest point of Skye, and measures 4½ m. from E. to W. and 1¼ m. from N. to S. Potatoes, barley and a little oats are grown, and the pasture being good the cattle are larger than most of the Hebridean breeds. The harbour is screened from south-westerly gales by the isle of Sanday. The antiquarian remains include a weather-worn sculptured stone cross and the ruins of a chapel of St Columba. Compass Hill (450 ft.) on the E. is so named from the alleged disturbance of the compasses of vessels passing within its sphere of influence. Sanday (pop. 44), another basaltic island, lies close to the S.E. of Canna. It measures if m. from E. to W. and 3¼ m. from N. to S. Some 3¾ m. S.E. of Canna is the island of Rum (pop. 149), which is situated 8½ m. from the nearest point of Skye, and measures 8½ m. N. to S. and 8 m. from E. to W. Geologically, its northern half is composed of Torridonian sandstone, with basalt at points between the West coast and the centre, of gabbro in the south-east, with a belt of gneissose rocks on its east seaboard and of quartz-porphyry in the south-west. It is mountainous in the south. Among the higher peaks are Askival (2659 ft.), Ashval (2552), Sgor-nan-Gillean (2503) and Allival (2368). On the north-west shore is a cliff where bloodstones are quarried. The mountains are a haunt of red deer. The harbour of the village of Kinloch, at the head of Loch Scresort, is resorted to during gales from the N.W. and S. Fully 4 m. S.E. and 7½ m. from the nearest point of the mainland lies the island of Eigg, or Egg (pop. 211), measuring from N. to S. 5 m. and from E. to W. 3½ m. It is in the main basaltic, but a band of quartz-porphyry runs from the centre in a north-westerly direction to the coast, and there is some oolitic rock on the north shores. On the north-east coast is a cave with a narrow mouth, opening into a hollow 255 ft. long. In it Macleod of Skye, towards the end of the 16th century, ordered 200 Macdonalds, inhabitants of the isle—men, women and children—to be suffocated, their bones being found long afterwards. The people are chiefly engaged in fisheries and cattle-rearing. Three m. S.W. is the island of Muck (pop. 42), which is about 1⅓ m. long by 2⅓ m. broad and lies fully 5 m. from the nearest point of Ardnamurchan. It is almost wholly basaltic, but has some oolite at the head of the bay on its north side.