The cultural heritage of 5,000 years of human history is specked across the landscape, although some archaeological assets are threatened by coastal erosion and development.

The tiny island of Fair Isle is now home to Scotland’s most geographically remote community. A strong community spirit helps to maintain the island’s distinctive culture, and the people living here fulfil many community roles, from tourism and maintaining vital services, to crofting and crafts. There is a rich heritage of traditional practices relating to fishing, language, craftwork and crofting that has been passed down through generations.

Crafts form a significant part of Fair Isle’s cultural identity. Fair Isle knitwear in particular is recognised as being internationally significant, and continues to be practised by a large proportion of the community. There is also a long heritage of other crafts on Fair Isle (including boat building, straw back chair making and spinning wheel making), although their significance is less well understood.

The Fair Isle community is also active in the conservation of the island’s fragile environment. They achieved recognition through the European Diploma Award in 1985, and pioneered the first community-led Marine Protected Area in Scotland in 2016.

It is the survival of Fair Isle’s island culture, way of life and craft skills in the context of its scale and isolation, and the way the community responds to the many challenges this poses with ingenuity, that makes this special place so significant, and which captivates people around the world.

A row of three wind turbines can be seen on an island, with a bright sun beaming down across a blue sky above. In the foreground is a row of solar panels on the ground.