Sunday, 30 August 2009

29 August 1930

It was 79 years ago since the last few dozen people were evacuated from the archipelago of St Kilda (Hiort), 40 miles west of the Outer Hebrides. The move, requested by the people themselves, came in the wake of a decline in population and the increasing problems posed by their remoteness. St Kilda has remained without permanent habitation since, with only Ministry of Defense personnel monitoring the rocket range on Uist and National Trust for Scotland staff looking after the remains of the houses there. Upon departing their shores, the St Kildans left a handful of grain on their tables, alongside the family bible, opened at the chapter Exodus.

A few houses have been restored, and cruiseliners regularly call in the summer. Reaching the islands is still difficult, due to the weather and sea conditions found in the North Atlantic. Efforts have been made to retain the history and culture of the islands, and quite a few books have been written. Yesterday was the first-ever St Kilda day. It is a good thing to celebrate culture. Celebrating an extinct culture in 21st century fashion is something that doesn't sit very easy with me.


  1. I didn't realize that St. Kilda was uninhabited until I saw a terrific TV show called "Britain's Lost World" with Historian Dan Snow, naturalist Steve Backshall and nature enthusiast Kate Humble. They did a 4 parter and went through the story of the former inhabitants and what happened on St. Kilda.

    Though many islands are remote, hopefully today's communications make them a bit less cut off from the world and would prevent any future tragedies.

    Your point about celebrating an extinct culture is well taken Arnish LH.

  2. Sad,so sad; I would love to live there;as I hate living with hordes around me; thanks for this lovely post

  3. I don't see the St Kildan culture as an entirely extinct one e.g. their sense of community and Gaelic language lives on, the hunting of sea birds continues in places like Ness etc.

    I think it's important to mark the day of their leaving for a number of reasons. For purely historical reasons it's important to tell their story and learn about their unique way of life. Secondly to highlight the island's UNESCO status, wildlife and ecology and generate enough new interest so that the island's future is secured in these respects. Finally, and to me most importantly, the St Kilda story shows Hebrideans the fragility of their own culture in the face of change and outside influences, how easily a community can decline when it's young men and women leave and don't return and the double edged sword that religion and capitalism can wield.

  4. A very interesting post on recent history, one of
    those places we would to visit.

  5. Thought provoking and comments are informative, many thanks... FM and clan