LEWIS, an island in the Atlantic Ocean, partly in the county of Inverness, but chiefly in that of Ross and Cromarty; containing 21,466 inhabitants, of whom 4429 are in the portion in the county of Inverness. This island, which forms part of the series called Long Island, and is the largest of the Hebrides, or Western Isles, is separated from the main land of Ross and Cromarty by the channel of the Minch, and is about eightytwo miles in length, and from eleven to twelve miles in average breadth. It contains the parishes of Barvas, Lochs, Stornoway, and Uig in the north, and the parish of Harris in the south, the last being in the county of Inverness; and the whole comprises an area of nearly 700,000 acres. The surface is deeply indented with bays and inlets from the sea. Of these, the principal are, Seaforth on the east, and Loch Reasort on the west, which respectively bound the parish of Harris on the north-east and north-west; and East and West Tarbert, which, by still deeper indentations, almost divide that parish into two detached portions. The island is generally hilly, though the Harris district is more mountainous than the rest of Lewis, from which it is separated by a chain of very considerable height; towards the coast are some tracts of fertile land, but the aspect of the interior is for the most part frightfully dreary and barren. Numerous small streams, issuing from inland lakes, flow through the lower grounds into the sea. Several of them abound with trout and salmon; and the numerous lochs that indent the shores afford lucrative fisheries for herrings and for white-fish of all kinds. The eastern portion of the isle is in general appropriated to the grazing of sheep and black-cattle, of which considerable numbers are reared; in the western district are some small tracts of arable land, of which the soil is among the most fertile of the Hebrides. The system of agriculture, though slowly improving, is still in a very backward state; and the cottages are built chiefly of mud, and roofed with thatch, timber of every kind being extremely scarce. The coast in some parts is low and sandy, and in others abruptly steep and rocky; the bay of Stornoway affords convenient and safe anchorage, being well sheltered from all winds, and there are numerous other harbours. The principal inhabited islands off the coast are, Bernera, Pabbay, Scarp, Tarrinsay, Anabich, Ensay, Hermitray, Killigray, and Scalpa. At the Buffs of Lewis, or northern headland, is a colony of Danish origin, which has preserved its ancient character without the slightest assimilation to that of the other inhabitants, with whom they scarcely hold any intercourse, though speaking the Gaelic language in all its purity; they are engaged in the fisheries off the coast. There are some remains of forts, Druidical circles, cairns, upright stones, and other monuments of antiquity.
   See the articles on the various parishes and islands.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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