15 August 2021
One of the most popular places to visit in Great Bernera is Bosta Beach, a sheltered, sandy cove on the north side of the island, with crystal clear waters and offshore rock stacks.
People flock to Bosta Beach in the summer for various activities, such as swimming, snorkelling, kayaking and Stand-Up paddling. It’s common to see folk exercising dogs, playing ballsports or ambling down the hill overlooking the beach as part of the Great Bernera Walk. And of course many go there simply to relax or to have a picnic or barbecue. If you stay long enough, you may hear the tidal bell (one of only seven such bells in the UK) ringing the turn of the tide.
There is also an interesting archaeological site to explore at the beach – a reconstruction of an Iron Age House which was part of a Pictish village occupied between 400-800 AD.
The village was ‘discovered’ following a great storm in the winter of 1993, which uncovered stonework in the sand dunes. Following excavation work, five well-preserved houses, some virtually intact, were revealed. The houses all had the same alignment, with south-facing entrances. They were semi-subterranean, so only the top of the walls and the roof could be seen above ground. A Viking house had also been built over the site, from which the name ‘Bostadh’ (meaning ‘farm’ in Old Norse) presumably derived.
The houses had double walls and timber roofs covered with turf. Each house had a main, circular room with a central stone-lined hearth and smaller chambers leading off to the side. Other excavations paint a vivid picture of the lifestyle of the villagers, who lived by farming, fishing, hunting and collecting seafood and seabirds. The site was re-occupied in more recent times, until scarcity of fuel forced the village to be abandoned in 1878.
Of course, Bosta Beach is not only worth a visit in the summer months. On clear winter evenings, we often spend time at the beach, chatting with friends around the firepit, listening to the sounds of the waves, gazing at the starry skies and occasionally getting a glimpse of the northern lights. Bosta Beach definitely has something to offer in all seasons.