St Kilda World Heritage Site

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St Kilda is a small archipelago in the Atlantic. Administratively it's part of the Western Isles or Outer Hebrides of Scotland, lying some 40 miles west of the main group. There is no island called St Kilda: the main island is Hirta. This had a small population subsisting by fishing, crofting and eating seagull eggs, in squalid impoverished conditions, until they were evacuated in 1930. The islands of Dùn, Soay and Boreray were never permanently inhabited and were just used for sheep grazing and egg collecting.

There has been an army base here since 1957, running the radar station that tracks the missile range off Benbecula. Much of the station is now run remotely and it had been intended for those personnel to leave (they're nowadays employed by the privatised defence firm Qinetiq.) A change of plan means that they're staying, and the station facilities are being noisily rebuilt, but this is in the hands of the switchback politics of the UK defence industry.

St Kilda is owned by the National Trust for Scotland. Hirta has a resident ranger and rotating NTS work parties but there are very few visitor facilities, eg no cafe. Most visitors come on day trips by boat whenever summer conditions allow. St Kilda isn't the most remote spot in the British Isles - a handful of other islands vie for that title - but has become a romanticised metaphor for isolation. That's mainly because its evacuation is still within living memory, with original film footage, boosted by the fictionalised version of the 1937 Michael Powell film "The Edge of the World".

For a map of St Kilda, try or use the historic maps from The National Library of Scotland.

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Nearby Places

  • St Kilda, Scotland

    Archipelago in Outer Hebrides, Scotland, United Kingdom

  • Hirta
  • Soay, St Kilda
  • Stac Lee
  • Stac an Armin
  • Dùn
  • Stac Biorach
  • Stac Levenish
  • Boreray, St Kilda

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