Lost Underwater Cities of Lewis

7 01 2014

The high tides and flooding in downtown Stornoway this New Year will bring back happy memories for those old SYs who can remember some of the island’s other Lost Underwater Cities. A mere 10000 years ago, the vast city of Backlantis stretched from Tiumpan Head to Vatisker Point and from Stenish to Garrabost, filling an island that covered most of what is now Broad Bay with gold-domed temples, vast amphitheatres, majestic pyramids and good corrugated iron sheds. The Backlanteans were adherents of the powerful sea god Posiedon-nie, (famed for his three pronged tairsgear) who blessed them with great prosperity and learning.

Consequently they lorded it over both the populace of neighbouring Stornoway and the primitive barbarian tribes of the surrounding countryside, extracting vast annual tributes of gold, jewels, precious spices, sgadan, peats and duff.

As with all great empires, however, the Backlanteans’ easy lifestyle led them into decadence and in-fighting. The elders in the Temple of Posiedonnie at the heart of the city fell out over the best way to gut a sgadan in order to read its entrails and split into numerous factions – the Temple of Posiedonnie (Continuing), the Associated Posiedonnie Church, the Free Posiedontyrians and so on.

Meanwhile Caledonian Backbrayne, the city’s ferry operator, decided to start Sunday sailings to the ‘mainland’ of Lewis, despite objections from the Emperor and the Backlantis Pier and Harbour Commission, and dire predictions of doom from various local oracles and wise women.

Needless to say Posiedonnie himself got completely fleeked off with all this – especially the Sunday sailings – and pulled the big plug that he’d installed in case of such an eventuality. The city filled with water and sank to the bottom of Broad Bay in a night, enabling but a few bedraggled survivors to reach the Eastern shore and establish the village now known as Back.

Sadly with Global Warming and all that, Back itself might soon suffer a similar fate, and today’s descendants of the Backlanteans may soon find themselves having to move to the top of Muirneag.

Not so the citizens of Achmore. Their ancestors in the ancient city of Achlantis (located at the mouth of today’s Loch Erisort) managed to get on the wrong side of Posiedonnie as well – something to do with nicking the High Priest’s turnips, according to the ancient Egyptian scrolls – and Achlantis, like Backlantis, was quickly submerged beneath the waters.

The surviving Achlanteans decided to avoid such punishments in future by moving as far away from the sea as possible, which is why Achmore is where it is today.

Older readers may also remember the short lived late 1970’s BBC Alba tv series, The Man From Achlantis. This stared Patrick Duff, later to star in Dellas, as a water-breathing resident of the sunken city who got up to all sorts of aquatic scrapes. The series was filmed entirely in Stornoway Swimming Pool (on a Thursday night just before the Canoe Club session).



One response

24 01 2014

Ah yuss! It’s all come flooding back!

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