The Island of Jura
Jura is one of the larger Inner Hebrides, lying between its near neighbour Islay and the Argyll mainland. It is dominated by the three Paps of Jura which are known in Gaelic as The Mountain of the Sound, The Mountain of Gold and The Sacred Mountain. The name Jura is said to come from the Norse words meaning Deer Island and certainly this has more than a ring of truth to it - today over 6500 deer live on the island, cultivated by the big sporting estates which derive most of their income from renting out the stalking. It's been estimated that 20% of the island's deer are killed by hunters each year.
Until 1493, when the Lordship of the Isles was finally overthrown, Jura belonged to the MacDonalds of Islay, but the northern half was then given to the MacLeans. Relations between these two clans was never easy and in 1585 hostilities erupted into warfare which only ended when a Jura archer found a chink in the armour of Lachlan Mór Maclean and killed him. In the 17th century, however, most of the MacDonald lands were given to the Campbells who initially lived at Sannaig while acquiring most of the rest of the island. The Campbells built Jura House in the late 1700s and continued to reside there until 1938 when Charles Campbell sold the family estates on the island. In so doing, he fulfilled a legendary Jura prophesy that "The last of the Campbells will be one eyed - and when he leaves the island all that he will take with him will be carried to the ship in a cart drawn by a white horse". Remarkably, Charles Campbell only had one eye and he left with few possessions which were taken to the ship - you've guessed it - in a cart drawn by a white horse.
Jura also has a whisky distillery. Distilling had been carried on illegally on Jura for centuries, but in the early 1800s the laird, Archibald Campbell, regularised the situation when he built a distillery which produced a heavy, peaty malt whisky. The distillery closed in 1901 following a dispute between the tenant, James Ferguson, and his avaricious landlord (who was still, unbelievably, pursuing the hapless Ferguson through the courts 20 years later), and fell into ruin. Happily, two rather more enlightened estate owners commissioned the rebuilding of the distillery and it reopened in 1963, then employing about a quarter of the island's male workforce. The distillery takes its water from a nearby loch and has four tall stills producing a lighter, highland style whisky very different from those of its near-neighbours on Islay.
The island is also known for its connection with author George Orwell. Orwell had for years wanted to leave London, where he felt "smothered". The success of "Animal Farm" gave him the freedom to do this and in 1946 he moved to Barnhill in the very north of the island (it's on our map) where he wrote much of his most famous novel, "1984". Although critical of the island's major landowners who he believed put sporting (shooting) interests above those of the crofters, Orwell loved Barnhill's solitude - he described it as "an extremely ungetatable place" - and he thought of the house (which had neither electricity nor modern amenities) as "lovely" although most of his contemporaries described it as bleak. Although Orwell had to interrupt his time at Barnhill with lengthy visits to London for treatment for the tuberculosis that eventually killed him in 1950, he very much thought of the house and island as his home.
A little north of Barnhill, off Jura's northern tip, is the dreaded Corryvreckan whirlpool. Apparently this is the only piece of water in the UK that is classed as unnavigable by the Royal Navy.
Near Ardlussa House in the northern part of the island is the Graveyard of Kilchianaig, burial place of St. Earnan who was St. Columba's uncle. Also in this cemetery lies Mary McCraine who died aged 128. Mary - known in her time as Mairi Ribeach, or Untidy Mary - was however a mere youngster compared to one of her ancestors, Gillour McCraine, who is alleged to have "passed 180 Christmases in his own house" when he died in 1671.
Our cross-stitch map of Jura has a stitch count of 120 x 165 and, when stitched on the recommended 27-count Linda evenweave, measures approximately 9 x 12¼ inches (226 x 310 mm). There are 4 buildings, a bridge, a lighthouse, standing stones, ferries, puffer, fishing and sailing boats, place names, and a Viking Longship as the compass.