I have finished this book; it was very interesting, as I did not know much of the Hebrides. Island of Wings, an Island of birds, has captured the life and hardship of the inhabitants and the outsiders who have come to bring and teach the gospel to the natives of Hirta. Both struggle to understand each other.The McKenzie family lived there from 1830 until their departure from the Island in 1843. It is a wonderful account of a natural world with a bitter sweet ending.
The neonatal death rate on St.Kilda in the 1830 was about 60%. the cause of death, the St. Kildan inhabitants called the "eight day sickness" as the affected infants dies within a couple of weeks of birth, was neonatal Tetanus. The origin of Tetanus was not known until 1884. Scientists have found high levels of the tetanus toxin in the St. Kildan soil. Possibly due to the facts that bird carcasses were ploughed into the soil as manure. A suggestion was, that they used contaminated fulmar oil on the umbilical cord when a child was born. It is said it is more likely, that the infants were infected by the knife used to cut the cord in a very unhygenic enviroment.
Hirta was finally evacuated in 1930 after life on the Island had become unsustainable.
Exerpts from notes and acknoledgement, page 311.
St Kilda, Main Island of Hirta, a walk along 'Main street' with the remains of the old blackhouses and the 16 newer 1860 built replacement houses.
The manse, the ministers home.Interesting facts, click here