Encyclopedia of the World's Coastal Landforms

2010 Edition
| Editors: Eric C. F. Bird

The Outer Hebrides

  • Alastair Dawson
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-8639-7_91

The Outer Hebrides (Western Isles) include the linked islands of Lewis and Harris, North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist, Eriksay, Barra and smaller islands south to Berneray (Angus 1997). The islands are dominated by Pre-Cambrian rocks, (Lewisian gneiss), which is often irregularly layered. There are associated granites in the hilly uplands of ­western Lewis and Harris, some schist and limestone in ­southern Harris and a low-lying area of red-brown Permo-Triassic sandstones and conglomerates.

The islands were strongly glaciated in Pleistocene times, and glacial drift blankets much of the northwest of Lewis, linking some former islands. Bold cliffs occur locally on exposed N and NW coasts, dissected along joint and fault planes, down which there have been local landslides, but undercutting and the retreat of headlands has been very slow on these hard rock formations, and even on the exposed north coast there are many vegetated slopes.

The west coasts of the islands are exposed to...


Salt Marsh Sandy Beach Rocky Shore Coastal Slope Calcareous Sand 
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  1. Angus S (1997) The Outer Hebrides. The shaping of the islands. White Horse Press, Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  2. Hansom JD (2003) St Kilda, Western Isles. In: May VJ, Hansom JD (eds) Coastal Geomorphology of Great Britain. Geological Conservation Review Series No. 28, Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, pp 60–68Google Scholar
  3. Ritchie W, Mather A (1977) The Beaches of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Countryside Commission of Scotland, Perth, AustraliaGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alastair Dawson
    • 1
  1. 1.Aberdeen Institute for Coastal Science and ManagementUniversity of Aberdeen Scotland