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Barpa Langais

Chambered Tomb, North Uist

More than just a pile of old stones!

This is a stunning construction, about 50 feet across, and 15 feet high. The exterior is a huge pile of stones, but it's the interior structure which is really impressive. A short corridor of about 8 feet opens into a small chamber, which is apparently hexagonal. I say apparently because I didn't venture inside, for two reasons. One was the sign near the monument which says that it's not safe to enter - when you look at the huge pile of stones being supported this doesn't come as too much of a surprise. But the main reason was that it really didn't feel right to go in there. The atmosphere the place had when you stuck your head into the opening at the base of the monument was intense, almost overpowering. This was and is a sacred place and I didn't feel that I had any right to go in there. It's a feeling I often have at burial chambers. Sometimes I go in, and sometimes there's something powerful stopping me from entering. So I took a photo of the chamber and retreated a few yards to take in the grandeur of the whole place.

Access: Situated on North Uist, near Loch Langass. We got the ferry from Leverburgh, on Harris, to Newtonferry (a.k.a. Otternish - this caused some confusion, as Caledonian Macbrayne, the ferry company, refer to it as Otternish, while all the maps we had called the place Newtonferry. when we pointed this out to one of the ferry crew, he smiled and said "Oh, so you noticed then.".) From the ferry, it was about a ten mile bus ride - the bus doesn't have a particularly strict timetable and it will usually wait until the ferry has arrived before setting off. The driver let us off near the site; there's not a bus stop as such, but most people know where things are and the best way to approach them so it's always worth asking. From the road it's about half a mile uphill on a path of sorts to the Barpa Langass burial chamber.
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Rating: General Impression 4, Ambience 4, Access 2

Text and photos on this page by and copyright of Alastair Fletcher and Jocasta Barrett

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