Saturday, 6 September 2008

Dun Carloway and Lewis Life

After Callanish we visited Dun Carloway, stopping a while later to rest for the night.

Dun Carloway, Lewis:

Dun Carloway is one of the best preserved brochs in the country, perhaps the best preserved after Mousa in Shetland. These double-walled round towers, looking like prehistoric power station cooling towers, were built in a quick burst between 100BC and AD100. Nearly all of them are in Shetland, Orkney, Caithness, and the Hebrides. Their function was probably short-term defence from opportunistic sea-raiders - but nobody knows for sure.

After Dun Carloway the heavens burst, and we popped into the tearoom in Gearannan village to avoid a soaking.

Gearannan, Lewis:

This village was inhabited well into the post-war period, but after it was abandoned the houses were turned into basic tourist accomodation, with a cafe and a preserved interior of a blackhouse from the mid post-war period.

Something the visitor notices in the Western Isles is the relaxed pace of life. Strangers are more open than on the mainland. If you pass somebody, it would be rude not to stop and exchange a greeting. I have heard this compared wistfully by a retired Englishman to life in the rest of Britain in the 1950s, and he mourned the passing of a better mannered way of life. It is possible to be frustrated by a lack of commercialisation and facilities for tourists, especially on a Sunday, but that perhaps is to miss the point.

Certainly, on returning to the mainland - or in our experience, Tobermory on Mull - we felt a change in the atmosphere, and locked up our bikes for the first time since leaving Oban for Barra and Vatersay.

1 comment:

Rune said...

Hi Robert,

Dun Carloway was a bonus to me when I was on Lewis. I had gone over to see Callanish and found my way to the Dun on the way back to Stornoway.

The Dun on Mousa in Shetland is fantastic, I remember seeing it when I was a kid staying over winter with my cousins on Shetland.

The islands are a real draw for me but my personal favourite is Orkney.

I'll need to put up an article on Orkney, you've inspired me.