The revival began in Barvas in 1822. A young girl read a story about the crucifixion of Christ, which she had learned at school, to her mother who was sick. The account made a deep impact on her mother and when a neighbour heard about it, on her too. Several women and then the sick woman's husband heard the story and were also deeply impacted. The work spread quickly from hamlet to hamlet and to other districts such as Gress and Callanish, until a great number had been converted.
As a result of this move of God meetings for prayer and exhortation were begun in various places. A strong degree of fanaticism attended the movement, with the occurrence of spasms, screaming and trances (some lasting 24 hours). Some converts, while in such state of physical prostration, claimed to be favoured with visions of heaven and hell.
With thanks to Tom Lennie and his book 'Land of Many Revivals'.
It seems, in my opinion, that this revival developed into something very unsavoury. There were several very strange occurrences that in my opinion does not sound like God. Several people who claimed to have visions etc did not show any change in their way of life.
Some local ministers wrote of the insanity, convulsive fits, mental derangement, suicide, domestic violence and despair were outcomes of the religious mania. Also, idleness, theft and disorderly conduct.
1822 became known as 'the year of the swoonings' because of the unusual manifestations, either real or imaginary. What happened here is a warning to us all that we have to be very discerning.
'Lochs experienced great upheaval and unrest. Vast enthusiasms through the revival had spread over the whole people... the revival had taken a firm hold of the minds of the people, many being yet in the first fervour of conversion'.