The earliest evidence of human habitation on Lewis is found in peat samples which indicate that about 8,000 years ago much of the native woodland was torched to make way for grassland to allow deer to graze.The earliest archaeological remains date from about 5,000 years ago.Today, life is very different from elsewhere in Scotland, with Sabbath observance, the Scottish Gaelic language and peat cutting retaining more importance than elsewhere.Lewis has a rich cultural heritage as can be seen from its myths and legends as well as the local literary and musical traditions.During the First World War, thousands of islanders served in the forces, many losing their lives, including 208 naval reservists from the island who were returning home after the war when the Admiralty yacht HMY Iolaire sank within sight of Stornoway harbour.Many servicemen from Lewis served in the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy during the Second World War, and again many lives were lost.Just click a photo or use the Find buttons to see more people around Stornoway. Lewis is, in general, the lower-lying part of the island: the other part, Harris, is more mountainous.
In 1844 Lewis was bought by Sir James Matheson, co-founder of Jardine Matheson, but subsequent famine and changing land use forced vast numbers off their lands, and increased again the flood of emigrants.
The Scots arrived during the first centuries AD, bringing the Scottish Gaelic language with them.
In the 9th century AD, the Vikings began to settle on Lewis, after years of raiding from the sea.
Due to its flatter, more fertile land, Lewis contains three-quarters of the population of the Western Isles, and the largest settlement, Stornoway.
The island's diverse habitats are home to an assortment of flora and fauna, such as the golden eagle, red deer and seal, and are recognised in a number of conservation areas.