Skip to main content

Field notebook of Alexander Carmichael, 15 July 1870 to 19 October 1871

Identifier: Coll-97/CW116

Scope and Contents

Field notebook belonging to Alexander Carmichael, inscribed on the inside cover with 'Alexander A Carmichael Inland Revenue Lochmaddy N[orth] Uist 15/7 1870 Note Book No 8'. The majority of this notebook contains material collected on Tarasaigh/Taransay from the MacDonalds at Paible House, Mor or Marion MacQueen and Donald MacKinnon including notes on the island's archaeology, local history and geographical changes, with stories of how coastal erosion revealed burial sites and renditions of the song 'Ailein Duinn'. There are also stories and notes on archaeology and local history relating to Na Hearadh/Isle of Harris, especially in the area around Toabh Tuath/Northton, Scarasta/Scarista and Losgaintir/Luskentyre. These were collected from Kenneth Morrison, a cottar at Nisishee and from Mary MacRae, a former dairymaid, about 95 years old, originally from Cinn Tàile/Kintail, in Taobh Tuath/Northton. Carmichael also collected songs from them, some of which are quite lengthy and include fairy lore. A number of the archaeological notes relate to structures which have been submerged.

The notebook also contains material collected in Uibhist/Uist including songs, customs and local history given to him by Margaret MacDonald, Malacleit/Malaclete and John MacKinnon at Cairinis/Carinish. Several items relate to the building of Teampull na Trionaid at Cairinis/Carinish and lore surrounding the site including stories relating to Teampull Chlann a' Phiocair/ the Temple of Mac Vicar, and MacKinnon also tells a story about crodh-mara or sea cattle. There are a number of archaeological and historical items relating to Caisteal Bhuirgh/Borve Castle on Beinn na Faoghla/Benbecula told by Roderick MacDonald, also known as Ruairidh Saor, and in particular by Hector MacLeod, Lionacleit/Linaclate, Beinn na Faoghla/Benbecula. MacLeod also tells stories about the MacDonalds of Clanranald and associated families, and stories of the supernatural. Throughout the notebook are items relating to placenames, some of which are etymological.


  • Creation: 15 July 1870 to 19 October 1871

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This material is unrestricted.


64 folios ; 19.5 x 23 cm

Physical Location


Existence and Location of Copies

Microfilm: Mic.Dup.1148/2



Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379