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St Kilda World Heritage Site
St Kilda World Heritage Site
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The St Kilda archipelago lies 64km to the west of the Outer Hebrides, lashed by some of the fiercest storms in the British Isles.

Its four main islands and outlying stacs are home to some 680,000 breeding seabirds, making it one of the largest colonies in the North-east Atlantic and almost double the size of the next largest colony in Britain.

Designated as Scotland’s first World Heritage Site for its scenery and wildlife, both on land and in the sea, it ranks with other sites around the world such as the Galapagos Islands and the Great Barrier Reef. It is also a National Nature Reserve.

Its spectacular beauty, remoteness, teeming seabirds and unique history of human habitation combine to give it a peculiar fascination.

Map of St Kilda

© Crown copyright. All rights reserved. Licence number 100023880.

Inhabitated since the stone age, the human community depended largely on the seabirds, relying on them to bring in the bounty of the surrounding seas, whose storminess prevented a fishing culture from becoming established.

Their specialised techniques for catching and storing the seabirds remain some of the most prominent features of the culture and archaeology of the islands, the landscape being dotted with the stone cleits built to wind-dry carcases for winter storage in the damp climate.

The Soay sheep, the most primitive breed in Europe, surviving unchanged on the islands for at least 3000 years, provide a remarkable living link with these early humans.

The last indigenous people gave up their unequal struggle with the elements and were evacuated in 1930. Today, there is a small radar tracking facility, connected with the missile testing range on Benbecula, and seasonal staff employed by the National Trust for Scotland.

 

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