Island Takes Title Of Most Scottish Place In Scotland

Lianne Gutcher

Scotsman, United Kingdom
Sept 11 2006

CONSIDERED by many to be one of the most unspoilt islands in Britain,
the tiny Hebridean island of Barra now has another claim – it is the
most Scottish place in Scotland.

Research has revealed that Barra has a higher proportion of Scots
living there than any other part of the UK. About 85 per cent of its
residents have a name considered to be Scottish.

Experts used the Origins Info marking database to arrive at the
results. It categorises the population into 200 different ethnic
groups on the basis of their names.

Its developers attest to the tool’s reliability despite the tendency
of women to take their husbands’ names on marriage and immigrants to
assume a more "British name" to avoid discrimination.

The research was designed to show the characteristics of "melting pot"
Britain. The details were provided by the 42 million adults registered
to vote.

The database is used by charities, retailers and hospitals to tailor
their services to individual ethnic groups.

Jessie MacNeil, of Voluntary Action Barra, a body campaigning on
social and economic issues, said the island’s remoteness had played
a part in preserving its Scottishness.

She added: "The importance placed on the Gaelic language and culture
has contributed to its high-profile [Scottishness]."

The island holds an annual festival, Feis Bharraigh, to promote the
practice and study of the Gaelic language, literature, music, drama and
culture. Begun in 1981, it is the longest-running event of its type.

Coatbridge in Lanarkshire was identified as the least Scottish town,
with only 39 per cent of residents considered to have names that put
their origins in Scotland.

This was attributed to the influx of Irish immigrants – 28 per cent
of the townsfolk had names traceable to Ireland.

Port Glasgow and Clydebank also shared this Irish trend.

In the Borders, West Linton was the most English town in Scotland
while Berwick-on-Tweed was the most Scottish town in England.

Thanks to an influx of steelworkers in the 1930s, the Northamptonshire
town of Corby also has a high density of residents who are Scottish
or of Scottish descent.

Many there still speak with Scottish accents, celebrate Burns Night
and host an annual Highland games.

Throughout the rest of the country, Ripley in Derbyshire is the most
English place, with nearly 89 per cent of residents having English
ethnic roots.

South Tottenham in North London, home to 113 ethnic groups, is the
most diverse.

The survey showed that immigrants from Armenia and their descendents
are the most successful ethnic group along with those from Japan,
Cyprus and the Netherlands.

Those from Sierra Leone, Syria and Bangladeshi Muslims fare the
least well.

Richard Webber, a professor of spatial analysis at University College
London, who developed Origins Info, said: "The patterns that this
analysis uncovers are very striking. We are hoping it will provide
a valuable tool for government and business."

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