A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Canna, an island in Small Isles parish, Invernessshire, 3 miles NW of Rum, and 12 SW of the nearest point of Skye. It measures 4½ miles in length from ENE to WSW, and about 1 mile in breadth; it is nearly joined, on the E, to Sanda; and, together with that island, it comprises about 429 acres of arable land, and 1794 acres of green pasture. Its surface is partly low and tolerably fertile, partly high and rocky, but nowhere higher than 800 feet above sea-level. Lias rocks form a small portion of its mass; but the main bulk consists of trap, variously basalt, greenstone, amygdaloid, and tufa. Basaltic columns occur on the S side, and are disposed in different ranges, rising in a succession of terraces. Zeolites of different kinds, and crystals of calcareous spar, are found in the cavities of the amygdaloid. A hill in the NW is remarkable for its strong action on the magnetic needle, and hence is called Compass Hill. The arable land is cropped chiefly with barley or bere and potatoes. The pasture land, in general, has fine grass, and supports cattle of a larger and better kind than are found in the neighbouring islands. Cod and ling abound in the surrounding seas, and are extensively fished. A good harbour, between Canna and Sanda, is much frequented, for shelter or for occasional trade, by sailing vessels of every description; and was much used, in former times, by the Baltic traders. The island, in old times, shared generally the fortunes of the more exposed of the Hebrides; it had a fort, which now is almost entirely effaced; and it formed, for a long time, a portion of the extensive possessions of the ancient family of Clanranald. In one of two neighbouring burial-grounds is a mutilated cross, which, 6½ feet high, is sculptured with braided work, the Greek fret, a Runic elephant, and other figures. Nearly all the inhabitants are Roman Catholics, who are served by a priest from Eigg. Pop. (1796) 304, (1841) 255, (1861) 53, (1871) 48, (1881) 50.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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