The discovery of substantial deposits of North Sea oil in 1965 and the renewables sector have contributed to a degree of economic stability in recent decades. , The earliest written references that have survived relating to the islands were made circa 77 AD by Pliny the Elder in his Natural History, where he states that there are 30 Hebudes, and makes a separate reference to Dumna, which Watson (1926) concludes is unequivocally the Outer Hebrides. , With the implementation of the Treaty of Union in 1707, the Hebrides became part of the new Kingdom of Great Britain, but the clans' loyalties to a distant monarch were not strong.  Aonghas Phàdraig Caimbeul, raised on South Uist and described by MacLean as "one of the few really significant living poets in Scotland, writing in any language" (West Highland Free Press, October 1992) wrote the Scottish Gaelic-language novel An Oidhche Mus do Sheòl Sinn which was voted in the Top Ten of the 100 Best-Ever Books from Scotland. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. The main islands include Barra, Benbecula, Berneray, Harris, Lewis, North Uist, South Uist, and St Kilda. ", The Hebrides were settled during the Mesolithic era around 6500 BC or earlier, after the climatic conditions improved enough to sustain human settlement. In his verse drama, Parlamaid nan Cailleach (The Old Wives' Parliament), he lampooned the gossiping of his female parishioners and local marriage customs..  Nevertheless, as late as the end of the 19th century, there were significant populations of monolingual Gaelic speakers, and the Hebrides still contain the highest percentages of Gaelic speakers in Scotland.  Sorley MacLean, the most respected 20th-century Gaelic writer, was born and raised on Raasay, where he set his best known poem, Hallaig, about the devastating effect of the Highland Clearances. , Heather moor containing ling, bell heather, cross-leaved heath, bog myrtle and fescues is abundant and there is a diversity of Arctic and alpine plants including Alpine pearlwort and mossy cyphal.  Over 200 species of flowering plants have been recorded on the reserve, some of which are nationally scarce. The following are the ten largest in the Hebrides and their outliers.  The position was exacerbated by the failure of the islands' kelp industry that thrived from the 18th century until the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 and large scale emigration became endemic. The transitional relationships between Norse and Gaelic-speaking rulers are complex. The grassy plains (machair) on the western coasts of some of the islands are the most fertile agricultural areas in the Hebrides, especially when fertilized with seaweed, the common local practice. The small island of Rhum became a Nature Conservancy Research Centre in 1957, specializing in the study of the local geology, flora, and fauna.
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