Wednesday, 6 March 2013


Reading now;  Island of Wings by Karin Altenberg;

July,1830, on the ten-hour sailing west from the Hebrides to the Island of St.Kilda...
Neil is to become the minister to the small community of Islanders...

Page 60;  They often make shoes out of the necks of gannets, they cut the head off at the eyes and the part  where the skull was serves as the heel of the shoe and the feathers on the throat  offer warmth and water proofing. They generally only last a couple of days, but at times there are so many birds that they can wear these disposable socks almost daily.

Page 61;  Yes it is true, that they are largely used to governing their own affairs, agreed the minister.
Forgive me sir, but do you not think that we have something to learn from them? George insisted.

Neil MacKenzie, the minister and his zealous Christianity, concentrating on his god, is way out of touch with life and how to live. Titania

Hirta (Scottish Gaelic: Hiort) is the largest island in the St Kilda archipelago, on the western edge of Scotland. The names "Hiort" (in Scottish Gaelic) and "Hirta" (historically in English) have also been applied to the entire archipelago.

The island measures 3.4 kilometres  from east to west, and 3.3 kilometres from north to south. It has an area of 6.285 square kilometres  and about 15 km of coastline. The only real landing place is in the shelter of Village Bay on the southeast side of the island. The island slopes gently down to the sea at Glen Bay (at the western end of the north coast), but the rocks go straight into the sea at a shallow angle and landing here is not easy if there is any swell at all. Apart from these two places, the cliffs rise sheer out of deep water. The highest summit in the island, Conachair, forms a precipice 430 m high .St Kilda is probably the core of a Tertiary volcano, but, besides volcanic rocks, it contains hills of sandstone in which the stratification is distinct.

The islands were continuously populated from prehistoric times until the 1930s, when the remaining inhabitants were evacuated
Viking burials have been found there. St. Kilda was part of the Lordship of the Isles, then a property of the MacLeods of Dunvegan from 1498 until 1930. There were three chapels on St. Kilda, dedicated to St Brendan, St Columba, and Christ Church, but little remains. There are also the remains of a beehive house, known as the Amazon's House.

The islanders had a tough life, and survived by exploiting the thousands of sea birds living on the islands. There are a large number of cleits, huts used for storing dried sea birds, fish, hay and turf. The islanders had a very democratic system, and decisions were taken by an island council, made up of all the menfolk. The present village was set out in the 1830s above Village Bay, but in the 1880s some of the population left for Australia, and the remaining inhabitants were finally evacuated in the 1930s because of hardship and storms that had cut off the islands for weeks.

Courtesy Wikipedia


  1. Sounds an interesting read. Funny how some left for Australia. I wonder why?

  2. Diane, thank you, yes it is. I think at the time many from England,Scotland,Ireland and the Hebrides emigrated, because most arable land was turned into grazing for sheep.The people were evicted,turned from the land and they also had no food to grow. When they had the great famine in Ireland,there was enough food in Ireland, but it was not given to the poor starving peasants, it was all sold, send to England. This event was followed by mass migration of people to USA and Australia.