Barra Isles

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View of the Barra Isles from Heaval. Castlebay is in the foreground, with Vatersay, Sandray, Pabbay, Mingulay and Berneray beyond.

The Barra Isles, also known as the Bishop's Isles as they were historically owned by the Bishop of the Isles,[1] are a small archipelago of islands in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. They lie south of the island of Barra, for which they are named. The group consists of nine islands, and numerous rocks.

Many of the islands are extremely small. Only the largest island Vatersay, which is now linked by causeway to Barra, remains inhabited. Berneray (also known as Barra Head), Pabbay, Sandray and Mingulay have been inhabited in the past. The four smallest islands are Flodday, Lingay, Muldoanich and Uineasan.

Access to these islands can be arranged with Barra Fishing Charters, who run regular trips to Mingulay from May to September and visit other islands by arrangement.

The Barra Isles are featured in several Viking sagas.

In addition to the larger islands thare are various smaller islets, stacks and skerries. Biruaslum is a stack to the west of Vatersay. It reaches 72 metres (236 ft) in height and there is a ruined prehistoric fort on the southern side. Francis G. Thompson characterizes it as "high and virtually inaccessible";[2] James Fisher mentions a "fulmar flying up and down its tiny cliff."[3]


  1. ^ Murray, W.H. (1966) The Hebrides. London. Heinemann. p. 230. Murray writes that they belonged "to the Bishop of the Isles de jure although to MacNeil de facto".
  2. ^ Francis G. Thompson, The Uists and Barra (David and Charles, 1974), 168
  3. ^ James Fisher, Rockall: The Islet of Birds 114.

Coordinates: 56°48′41″N 07°38′15″W / 56.81139°N 7.63750°W / 56.81139; -7.63750