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21 Jun 2019

From the edge of the world: part 4

Written by Sue Loughran
The cliffs on Hirta, St Kilda
Hello! I’m Sue, the ranger on St Kilda. I’m writing a blog to share what it’s like to work on these incredible islands. This week, I learned about one of the island traditions.

Being so far west into the Atlantic, the weather is typically highly changeable. My initial walk to the Mistress Stone was in fairly thick set rain and low cloud. It was certainly atmospheric, but it wasn’t until I returned on a clear sunny afternoon that I could appreciate the views and was able to clamber up to it.

The Mistress Stone on Hirta
The Mistress Stone on Hirta

Tradition tells that the St Kildan men would stand on one leg on top of the stone in order to prove their worthiness to marry. Whether this is true, or has been forged from the writings of visitors, is open to interpretation, but the idea of anyone doing this is fairly stomach-churning. Maybe to a St Kildan, with their incredible strength and head for heights, this would possibly have been a relatively easy feat!

A black and white postcard showing two bare feet, one much larger than the other.
A postcard sold in the island shop

Talking of feet … a postcard caught my eye in the St Kilda Club shop, as I was busy serving some customers. Not credited to anybody, but probably taken in the 1920s, it compares the feet of a native St Kildan with those of a visitor. More about the shop next week!

All that climbing paid off for me; that’s what I call a sturdy ankle and a good adaptation to a tough lifestyle!

From the edge of the world

St Kilda blog

Find out more about what it’s like to work on these incredible islands.

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