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The Isle of Lewis, the largest and the most northerly of the islands of the Outer Hebrides, has had an eventful story from prehistoric times through to the present.
Evidence of human occupation stretches back to 3000 BC, explicit in the iconic silhouettes of the Standing Stones at Callanish. After the Vikings left in the ninth century, the clans of West Scotland quickly moved in, and Lewis was the site of many feuds between the Morrisons, the MacAulays and the MacLeods. The island operated largely independently until it was purchased by the MacKenzies in 1600 and was finally drawn into Scotland’s mainland politics. It was then purchased by Sir James Matheson in 1844, and finally by Lord Leverhulme, in the 20th century.
Throughout the centuries the people of Lewis have taken their living from the land and the surrounding seas, and these elements, together with the climate of the island, have determined their history far more than the vicissitudes of its ownership. Bill Lawson excels in charting the history of the people themselves, weaving his way through the centuries with stories drawn from documented sources, oral tradition, Gaelic song, and from his own experiences of many years travelling around the island.
Bill Lawson founded the genealogy centre Co Leis Thu? and is genealogical consultant to Northton Heritage Trust, which now runs this research service. He has written over 36 books on the genealogies and history of the Western Isles and has an unrivalled knowledge of the history of emigration from the area. He regularly researches and lectures in North America and Australia. He lives in Northton, Harris.