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2 -The 14th Century

The Lords of Lewis

Before the 14th century, Lewis had been held by the Nicolsons, who possibly had strongholds at Fleiserin and Stornoway. They may also have been responsible for the building of an earlier church on the site, a fragment of which (shown in red) is retained, embedded in the north wall.The Early Lords

The Macleods of Lewis

The Macleod dynasty, reputedly descended from Leod, a Norseman, obtained possession of the whole of Lewis through marriage to a daughter of Torquil Nicolson. Torquil Macleod, the son from this marriage, probably died around 1380, and his descendents retained control of Lewis until 1610. The nave and chancel of the present church may have been built at the start of this period.

MacLeods of Lewis


The Lordship of the IslesLord of the Isles - Past Lords


During the 14th century most of the Hebrides, including Lewis, was brought together under a single lordship. Under John of Islay, styling himself Lord of the Isles. from 1354, this became a very powerful lordship, virtually independent of the control of the Scottish Crown. The Lord of the Isles granted parts of the Lordship to relatives and followers: Lewis continued to be held by ‘Siol Thorcuil’. the descendents of Torquil Macleod.

This was the golden age of medieval society and Gaelic culture in the Western Isles. Justice was administered through the Council of the Isles, meetings of the principal island chiefs with the lord at one of the strongholds. Although warfare was a way of life, within the Lordship itself peace was generally maintained.

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