Stornoway was originally a Viking settlement and the development of the town was spurred by the construction of the original castle in the Middle Ages. There was much infighting between rival clans and an attempt by the then King of Scotland, JamesVI, to colonise Lewis failed in 1597. The original castle was destroyed by Oliver Cromwell’s forces after his Scottish campaign in the mid 17th century. Ownership of Stornoway passed from family to family until gifted to the Stornoway Trust in whose ownership it remains to this day.
Stornoway has a large natural harbour including fishing port and is also the main manufacturing centre for the Harris Tweed clothand garments that have been made on the island for centuries.
The ‘new’ Victorian Castle, known as Lews Castle is now a college. An Lantair is a new arts centre and other attractions include a museum and the Lewis Loom Centre.
Stornoway’s black pudding is regarded as one of the top gourmet black puddings in the UK. Stornoway kippers and Stornoway smoked salmon are still produced in the town. Stornoway Fish Smokers in Shell Street have one of the last working brick kilns in the UK.
The area is famous for the Standing Stones of Callanish (Scotland’s Stonehenge) and Dun Carloway Broch, situated not too far from Stornoway. The Callanish stone circle situated near the shore of Loch Roag is thought to date from 1975BC. The 2000 year old Black House Museum has original furniture and a peat fire in the centre of the room. There are three other smaller stone circles around the shores of Loch Roag.
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Photo: Callanish Stones (RG) 26