Heb'rides, or Western Islands, the general name applied to all the islands on the west coast of Scotland. To the Outer Hebrides belong Lewis with Harris (Long Island), North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist, Barra, and remote St Kilda, 60 miles to the west. The principal of the Inner Islands are Skye, Eigg, Coll, Tiree, Mull, Iona, Staffa, Ulva, Lismore, Kerrera, Colon-say, Oronsay, Jura, and Islay. Bute, the Cum-braes, and Arran are usually counted amongst the Hebrides; and to the same group were anciently assigned the peninsula of Kintyre, the island of Rathlin, and the Isle of Man. The total number of islands of any size is about 500, but of these four-fifths are uninhabited. Of the whole surface only about 200,000 acres are arable; the rest is pasture-land of little value, morasses, peat-mosses, lakes, and barren sands and rocks. Owing to the Gulf Stream, the Hebrides have a mild though humid climate. Politically they are distributed among the Scottish counties of Ross, Inverness, Argyll, and Bute. The crofters, who mostly speak Gaelic, are much occupied in fishing and fowling. Much of the area has been converted into sheep-walks, whilst extensive tracts are let to sportsmen. The Hebrides are the Ebudœ of Ptolemy and Pliny's Hebudes (of which 'Hebrides' is a corruption), and Sudrey-jar (Southern Islands) of the Norwegians. This last name was Latinised as Sodorenses, which survives in the title 'Bishop of Sod or and Man. The early Celtic inhabitants were converted to Christianity by St Columba in the 6th century. After 872 several of the islands were colonised by Norwegians, who came hither to escape the iron rule of Harold Haarfager. But to punish their depredations on the coast of Norway, Harold sent an expedition westwards, which subdued all the Western Islands as far south as Man. To Norway they remained subject till 1266. In 1346 the head of the Macdonalds sub-dued them, and took the title of Lord of the Isles ; and from 1504 they became definitively Scottish possessions. Ecclesiastically they remained dependent on Norway till 1374. In the 19th century the population greatly declined. All the principal islands are separately treated.
See works by Martin (1703), Pennant (1774), Dr Johnson (1775), Gregory (1836), R. Buchanan (1883), Miss Gordon Camming (1S83), and Miss Goodrich-Freer (1902).