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The remote archipelago of St Kilda, off the west coast of the Scottish mainland, is truly an isolated place. Located some 64 km west of the Outer Hebrides, it is the most remote part of the British Isles. The island is full of jagged granite boulders and towering cliffs that bear the full force of the wild North Atlantic weather. The wind is so strong here that trees refuse to grow.

In this hostile climate, a small community had clung to their most basic existence, surviving largely by eating sea birds and their eggs. This extraordinary group of men, women and children lived in a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, scaling sheer cliff faces to catch gannets, fulmars and puffins, and farming meager crops, right into the early decades of the 20th Century. After thousands of years of isolation, the entire population of the island evacuated to the mainland to escape the failing harvests, the lack of communication and the lack of medical care. The story of these islanders and their gradual loss of self-sufficiency have been the object of enduring fascination for the rest of Scotland and the wider world.


The abandoned Village Bay, on the island of Hirta, St Kilda. Photo credit: CaptainOates/Flickr

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© Amusing Planet, 2016.


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