Borve, Lewis

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Borve Free Church (geograph 3728270) - cropped.jpg
Borve Free Church
Borve is located in Outer Hebrides
Location within the Outer Hebrides
LanguageScottish Gaelic
OS grid referenceNB412561
Civil parish
Council area
Lieutenancy area
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtHS2
Dialling code01851
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament
List of places
58°25′01″N 6°25′55″W / 58.417°N 6.432°W / 58.417; -6.432Coordinates: 58°25′01″N 6°25′55″W / 58.417°N 6.432°W / 58.417; -6.432

Borve (Scottish Gaelic: Borgh) is a village on the west side of the Isle of Lewis in Scotland, 17 miles (27 kilometres) from the island's only town, Stornoway.


The village lies on the River Borve, which is crossed by two adjacent bridges. The older bridge, built of stone rubble and consisting of a single arch, dates from the late 19th century and is no longer used for road traffic.[1] The modern bridge was built in the early 1990s at a cost of £250,000.[2] The main road through the village is the A857 between Stornoway and Ness.[1]

The village is in three parts: Borve, previously Fivepenny Borve, which stretches from the southern boundary to the river Borve; High Borve, previously Mid-Borve, north of the river; and Melbost Borve, nearest Galson.[3]



In Melbost Borve there are the remains of a burial ground (Cladh Bhrighid) and the barely visible ruins of a tiny chapel, Teampall Bhrìghid, and a well, Tobar Bhrìghid, - all dedicated to St Brigid.[4][5]

About 12 mile (800 metres) north of Melbost Borve stand the ruins of the pre-Norse broch Dun Bhuirgh. Its name derives from the old Norse word borg, meaning a fort, and according to 19th-century accounts is the origin of the village's name. The original fort was circular in shape with an internal diameter of 30 feet (9 metres) and walls 11 ft (3.4 m) thick.[6]

The Clan Macquarrie rescue[edit]

On the night of 31 January to 1 February 1953, the Clan Line vessel SS Clan Macquarrie (7131 tons) was driven onto the foreshore at Borve by gales. Braving the horrendous weather, with winds gusting up to 100 mph (160 km/h; 45 m/s), local men got a breeches buoy onto the vessel and rescued all 66 crew members. In recognition of the villagers' courage and hospitality, the Clan Line donated funds for the construction of a village hall.[7]

War memorial[edit]

To the north of the Community Centre stands the North Lewis War Memorial,[8] which records the names of men from Borve, Galson, Shader, and Ballantrushal who died in the two World Wars and the Iolaire Disaster of 1919. The memorial also records one casualty of the Boer Wars.[9]


Borve Free Church is in the village centre.[10] The church has recently been used for traditional Hebridean weddings.[11]

Teampall Bhrìghid[edit]

The ruins of an earlier church and graveyard, Teampall Bhrìghid (St Bridget's Church) are found in Melbost Borve. The stone has been robbed out to build other structures and all that remains of the church, now, is a grassy mound. Local tradition holds that Swain, a Norse king, was buried with his crown at Teampall Bhrìghid.[12]


  1. ^ a b "Lewis, Borve Bridge".
  2. ^ Kynoch, George (23 April 1996). "Isle of Lewis (Roads)". Hansard. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
  3. ^ "Lewis, Borve".
  4. ^ Muir, Thomas Scott (1885). Ecclesiological notes on some of the islands of Scotland, p. 42. David Douglas
  5. ^ Sharkey, John and Payne, Keith (1986). The road through the Isles, p. 238. Wildwood House. ISBN 0704504987
  6. ^ Thomas, F. W. L. (1853). "On the Duns of the Outer Hebrides". Archaeologia Scotica: Transactions of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, pp. 365–415.
  7. ^ Stornoway Gazette (5 March 2008). "Clan Macquarrie – historic rescue at Borve". Retrieved 27 May 2015.
  8. ^ "Lewis, Lewis, Coig Peighinnean Bhuirg, War Memorial". RCHAMS. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
  9. ^ "Lewis, Cross, North Lewis War Memorial". RCHAMS. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
  10. ^ "Borve Free Church". Scottish Church Heritage Research. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
  11. ^ "Western Isles TV reality wedding". Hebrides News. 24 November 2010. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
  12. ^ Barrowman, Rachel C.; Francoz, Charlotte; Hooper, Janet; Rennie, Christine; Tompsett, Gary (17 February 2020). "Chapel-sites on the Isle of Lewis: Results of the Lewis Coastal Chapel-sites Survey". Scottish Archaeological Internet Reports. 88: 1–134. doi:10.9750/issn.2056-7421.2020.88. ISSN 2056-7421.

External links[edit]