Island takes title of most Scottish place in Scotland

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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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