The Hebrides (English: Hebrides [ hebrɪdi ː z], Scottish Gaelic na h- Innse Gall, Old Norse Sudreyjar ) are an archipelago up to 50 kilometers off the north west coast of Scotland.

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The archipelago is divided morphologically and politically in the Outer Hebrides (also known as the Western Isles ), and the Inner Hebrides, separated by the Little Minch and the North Minch and the Barra passage. They extend over more than 200 km in length from about 59 ° N 6 ° W to 56 ° N 8 ° W and make for the coast of the Scottish country a main wall in front of the Atlantic Ocean. Of the approximately 500 islands with a total of 7285 km ² are only the larger around 70 to 80 islands, according to other data, only 50 inhabited. Many of these islands have only small populations.


The islands are made up of various, but mainly old crystalline (from the Precambrian) rock types such as granite, including the site-specific Lewis granite, gneiss and schists. In the inner area of ​​the island is dominated by gneisses and granites adjacent to tertiary volcanic rocks ( basalt).

The glacial reshaping left, despite the low height above sea level, a variety of shapes available, which also includes the more than 100 lakes are attributable. Highest point of the group is the Sgurr Alasdair ( 993 meters above sea level) in the Black Cuillins on Skye, the second highest mountain chain forms the Ben More ( 966 m above sea level. NN ) on the Isle of Mull. Overall, 13 Munros are in the Hebrides, of which 12 are on Skye and Mull.


The Hebrides are under the influence almost constant moist and cool westerly winds. However, a mild climate without special temperature changes, the foothills of the Gulf Stream reach here. The temperature varies between 4 or 5 ° C in January and 12 to 16 ° C in summer, with frequent rain, a total of 1,000 mm to 1,200 mm per year. Hard frost is less frequent and less intense than, for example, in London. Also, snow is commonly found only at around 30 days a year. The most striking element is the weather continued wind. Average daily wind speeds of over 20 km / h and daytime highs of 50 to 85 km / h every season are the rule. For rare cold snaps ensure eastern, dry spring winds when form stable anticyclones over Scandinavia, and Arctic air masses.

Soil and vegetation

Do not Tread on the bare rock -a-days, bears the rather bleak landscape a predominantly thin covering of peat and endless moors or is covered by lush green meadows and heath. There are white sand beaches alternate with rocky parts also to the coastal areas. Larger forest areas exist only on isolated islands, as the soil thickness is extremely small. The ice-age glaciers cover caused a complete loss of the humus layer, and the formation of new soil will be very slow and difficult conditions instead. For this purpose, the two mainly occurring soil types are either very acidic or very alkaline and therefore in need of fertilizer and require liming. Therefore, only around 100,000 hectares of arable land in use.

Administrative divisions

While the Outer Hebrides Western Isles form as a separate administrative district, the Inner Hebrides are divided into two parts and includes two Scottish Councils of the main island. The northern part of Skye, the Small Isles and some smaller islands near Skye as Oronsay, Raasay and Scalpay lie in the area of ​​Highland Council. The southern group includes Mull, Islay, Jura, the Slate Islands and the Isles Treshnish next to some other islands around Mull. They belong to the Argyll and Bute Council.


The prehistory and history of the Hebrides is most of the time closely linked to the on the main island of Scotland (see History of Scotland ). Only at the time of the Kingdom of Dalriada, the Earltums on Orkney and the Kingdom of the islands belonged to the islands for a while to Ireland ( to 572 ) and Norway ( until the Treaty of Perth in 1266 ). In the 10th and 11th century, there formed a Gaelic - Norse mixed culture, the Gall- Ghaedil. In the 13th century ended the Scandinavian supremacy. In the 15th century, the Hebrides were the central part of the controlled from the Clan MacDonald Lordship of the Isles. This was a Gaelic Unterkönigtum, which included his weddings almost the entire west coast of Scotland and parts of Northern Ireland. The small Hebridean island of Iona was the headquarters, the Holy Columban was the patron saint. Man tied again at Dalriada.

Iona was from 563 the center of the outgoing of Ireland to Christianity. On Skye, the main island of the Inner Hebrides, the Museum of the Isles shows the history of the Hebrides from the arrival of the Celts to the present. The museum is located in the park of the Castle Armadale, the ancestral home of the Clan of the MacDonalds.

Economy and Transport


Local raw materials for the regional and national trade make of peat, sand, stone, partly as a split and some minerals dar. Also Kelp is marketed. Few agricultural products are to the economy of greater importance. Important are the whiskey production and livestock (cattle, sheep) with the resulting woven woolen cloth, including the famous Harris Tweed. Furthermore, there is a significant fishing, and tourism experienced in the last decades a strong upswing.


Between the main islands and the mainland there are regular ferry and air lines, but these are quite expensive and weather dependent. After 1946 car ferries were introduced, the individual islands has been investing heavily in the road network. On the main arteries public bus service, in addition to transport small post buses are used. Some closely spaced islands were connected by bridges and / or dams. The Isle of Skye has the Skye Bridge since 1996 on a direct road link to the Scottish mainland.


On some islands of the Hebrides, especially on Skye and Lewis, is spoken by part of the total of almost 60,000 inhabitants still Scottish Gaelic. After the number of Gaelic speakers a long time declined, it is approximately constant for several years; speak in the Outer Hebrides in many places more than 70 percent of the population Gaelic.

Your quirks and habits provides Lillian Beckwith in her novel The lake for breakfast concisely displays


  • Barpa Langais ( Cairn )
  • Callanish I to XVI (stone circles on Lewis)
  • Clach An Truishal ( Menhir on Lewis)
  • Dun Carloway ( Broch on Lewis)
  • Finlaggan ( Menhir on Islay )
  • Pobull Fhinn (stone circle on North Uist )
  • Old Man of Storr (50 -meter-high rock pinnacle on Skye )


As the " New Hebrides " a first French managed, later sovereign Atoll in the South Pacific was called, which bears the name of Vanuatu today.