|Hellisay shown within Scotland|
|OS grid reference||NF756040|
|Meaning of name||Old Norse: island of the caves|
|Area and summit|
|Area||142 hectares (0.55 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||Meall Meadhonach 79 metres (259 ft)|
|Island group||Uists and Barra|
|Local Authority||Na h-Eileanan Siar|
|If shown, area and population ranks are for all Scottish islands and all inhabited Scottish islands respectively. Population data is from 2001 census.|
Geography and geology
There are several peaks on the island - such as on the peninsula of Charish, and also Beinn a' Chàrnain (mountain of the small cairn; 73 metres (240 ft)), Meall Meadhonach (Middle rounded hill; 79 metres (259 ft)), and Meall Mòr (next to Meall Meadhonach; 75 metres (246 ft)) and Meall an Healladh.
The island's name is Old Norse in origin. It possibly means "island of the caves", which appears to be confirmed by the name Rubha na h-Uamh (headland of the cave) in the east of the island. However, Blaeu's map has "Hildesay", which suggests that the name may derive from the Norse from "Hilda's Island".
The island's settlement was at Buaile Mhòr ("Bualavore", meaning the Big Fold) near Eilean a' Ghamhna in the north west of the island. The remains of a sheep pen and a well can still be seen.
Like so many other islands in the region, Hellisay was strongly affected by the Highland Clearances. Firstly, refugees from clearances in neighbouring islands swelled the population, and latterly the island's inhabitants themselves were evicted, and many went to live on Eriskay. The population peaked at 108 in 1841, and the island was cleared in the 1840s - however it continued to have some inhabitants up until 1890.
Alasdair Ailpin MacGregor's stories reveal a rich folklore and mythology extant on the island, possibly only a fraction of which has been preserved.
- ^ 2001 UK Census per List of islands of Scotland
- ^ a b c d e f g Haswell-Smith, Hamish. (2004) The Scottish Islands. Edinburgh. Canongate.
- ^ Ordnance Survey
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