Portal:Scottish islands

The Scottish Islands Portal
Welcome! — Fàilte! — Walcome!


Relief map of Scotland, showing some of the numerous offshore islands

Scotland has over 900 offshore islands, most of which are to be found in four main groups: Shetland, Orkney, and the Hebrides, sub-divided into the Inner Hebrides and Outer Hebrides. There are also clusters of islands in the Firth of Clyde, Firth of Forth, and Solway Firth, and numerous small islands within the many bodies of fresh water in Scotland including Loch Lomond and Loch Maree. The largest island is Lewis and Harris which extends to 2,179 square kilometres, and there are a further 200 islands which are greater than 40 hectares in area. Of the remainder, several such as Staffa and the Flannan Isles are well known despite their small size. Some 94 Scottish islands are permanently inhabited, of which 89 are offshore islands. Between 2001 and 2011 Scottish island populations as a whole grew by 4% to 103,702.

The geology and geomorphology of the islands is varied. Some, such as Skye and Mull are mountainous, while others like Tiree and Sanday are relatively low lying. Many have bedrock made from ancient Archaean Lewisian Gneiss which was formed 3 billion years ago; Shapinsay and other Orkney islands are formed from Old Red Sandstone, which is 400 million years old; and others such as Rùm from more recent Tertiary volcanoes. Many of the islands are swept by strong tides, and the Corryvreckan tide race between Scarba and Jura is one of the largest whirlpools in the world. Other strong tides are to be found in the Pentland Firth between mainland Scotland and Orkney, and another example is the "Grey Dog" between Scarba and Lunga. (More on Scottish islands...)

Selected picture

Selected island group

The Flannan Isles (Scottish Gaelic: Na h-Eileanan Flannach) or alternatively, the Seven Hunters are a small island group in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, approximately 32 kilometres (20 mi) west of the Isle of Lewis. They may take their name from Saint Flannan, the 7th century Irish preacher and abbot.

The islands have been devoid of permanent residents since the automation of Flannan Isles Lighthouse in 1971. (Full article...)

News

Proposed spaceport site at Lamma Ness, Unst
Proposed spaceport site at Lamma Ness, Unst

Selected fauna

Boreray Ram.jpg

The Boreray, also known as the Boreray Blackface or Hebridean Blackface, is a breed of sheep originating on the St Kilda archipelago off the west coast of Scotland and surviving as a feral animal on one of the islands, Boreray. The breed was once reared for meat and wool, but is now used mainly for conservation grazing. The Boreray is one of the Northern European short-tailed sheep group of breeds.

It is one of the rarest breeds of sheep in the United Kingdom. The breed is classed as "Category 3: Vulnerable" by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, because 500–900 breeding ewes are known to exist. It had previously been the only breed classed in "Category 2: Critical" but by 2017 the population had grown. (Full article...)

Selected history & culture article

Royal Banner of Scotland.svg

Dál Riata or Dál Riada (also Dalriada) (/dælˈrədə/) was a Gaelic kingdom that encompassed the western seaboard of Scotland and the north-eastern corner of Ireland, on each side of the North Channel. At its height in the 6th and 7th centuries, it covered what is now Argyll ("Coast of the Gaels") in Scotland and part of County Antrim in Northern Ireland. After a period of expansion, Dál Riata eventually became associated with the Gaelic Kingdom of Alba.

In Argyll, it consisted of four main kindreds, each with their own chief: Cenél nGabráin (based in Kintyre), Cenél nÓengusa (based on Islay), Cenél Loairn (who gave their name to the district of Lorn) and Cenél Comgaill (who gave their name to Cowal). The hillfort of Dunadd is believed to have been its capital. Other royal forts included Dunollie, Dunaverty and Dunseverick. Within Dál Riata was the important monastery of Iona, which played a key role in the spread of Celtic Christianity throughout northern Britain, and in the development of insular art. Iona was a centre of learning and produced many important manuscripts. Dál Riata had a strong seafaring culture and a large naval fleet.

Dál Riata is said to have been founded by the legendary king Fergus Mór (Fergus the Great) in the 5th century. The kingdom reached its height under Áedán mac Gabráin (r. 574–608). During his reign Dál Riata's power and influence grew; it carried out naval expeditions to Orkney and the Isle of Man, and assaults on the Brittonic kingdom of Strathclyde and Anglian kingdom of Bernicia. However, King Æthelfrith of Bernicia checked its growth at the Battle of Degsastan in 603. Serious defeats in Ireland and Scotland during the reign of Domnall Brecc (died 642) ended Dál Riata's "golden age", and the kingdom became a client of Northumbria for a time. In the 730s the Pictish king Óengus I led campaigns against Dál Riata and brought it under Pictish overlordship by 741. There is disagreement over the fate of the kingdom from the late 8th century onwards. Some scholars have seen no revival of Dál Riatan power after the long period of foreign domination (c. 637 to c. 750–760), while others have seen a revival under Áed Find (736–778). Some even claim that the Dál Riata usurped the kingship of Fortriu. From 795 onward there were sporadic Viking raids in Dál Riata. In the following century, there may have been a merger of the Dál Riatan and Pictish crowns. Some sources say Cináed mac Ailpín (Kenneth MacAlpin) was king of Dál Riata before becoming king of the Picts in 843, following a disastrous defeat of the Picts by Vikings. The kingdom's independence ended sometime after, as it merged with Pictland to form the Kingdom of Alba.

Latin sources often referred to the inhabitants of Dál Riata as Scots (Scoti), a name originally used by Roman and Greek writers for the Irish Gaels who raided and colonized Roman Britain. Later, it came to refer to Gaels, whether from Ireland or elsewhere. They are referred to herein as Gaels or as Dál Riatans. (Full article...)

Selected island

Islay (/ˈlə/ (listen) EYE-lə; Scottish Gaelic: Ìle, Scots: Ila) is the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. Known as "The Queen of the Hebrides", it lies in Argyll just south west of Jura and around 40 kilometres (25 mi) north of the Northern Irish coast. The island's capital is Bowmore where the distinctive round Kilarrow Parish Church and a distillery are located. Port Ellen is the main port.

Islay is the fifth-largest Scottish island and the eighth-largest island of the British Isles, with a total area of almost 620 square kilometres (240 sq mi). There is ample evidence of the prehistoric settlement of Islay and the first written reference may have come in the 1st century AD. The island had become part of the Gaelic Kingdom of Dál Riata during the Early Middle Ages before being absorbed into the Norse Kingdom of the Isles.

The later medieval period marked a "cultural high point" with the transfer of the Hebrides to the Kingdom of Scotland and the emergence of the Clan Donald Lordship of the Isles, originally centred at Finlaggan. During the 17th century the power of Clan Donald waned, but improvements to agriculture and transport led to a rising population, which peaked in the mid-19th century. This was followed by substantial forced displacements and declining resident numbers.

Today, it has over 3,000 inhabitants, and the main commercial activities are agriculture, malt whisky distillation and tourism. The island has a long history of religious observance, and Scottish Gaelic is spoken by about a quarter of the population. Its landscapes have been celebrated through various art forms, and there is a growing interest in renewable energy in the form of wave power. Islay is home to many bird species such as the wintering populations of Greenland white-fronted and barnacle goose, and is a popular destination throughout the year for birdwatchers. The climate is mild and ameliorated by the Gulf Stream. (Full article...)

Did you know?

Lang Ayre from Stonga Banks

Selected portrait

Selected geography article

The Old Man of Hoy from the north

The Old Man of Hoy is a 449-foot (137-metre) sea stack on Hoy, part of the Orkney archipelago off the north coast of Scotland. Formed from Old Red Sandstone, it is one of the tallest stacks in the United Kingdom. The Old Man is popular with climbers, and was first climbed in 1966. Created by the erosion of a cliff through hydraulic action some time after 1750, the stack is not more than a few hundred years old, but may soon collapse into the sea. (Full article...)

Selected biography

Childe in the 1930s

Vere Gordon Childe (14 April 1892 – 19 October 1957) was an Australian archaeologist who specialised in the study of European prehistory. He spent most of his life in the United Kingdom, working as an academic for the University of Edinburgh and then the Institute of Archaeology, London. He wrote twenty-six books during his career. Initially an early proponent of culture-historical archaeology, he later became the first exponent of Marxist archaeology in the Western world.

Born in Sydney to a middle-class English migrant family, Childe studied classics at the University of Sydney before moving to England to study classical archaeology at the University of Oxford. There, he embraced the socialist movement and campaigned against the First World War, viewing it as a conflict waged by competing imperialists to the detriment of Europe's working class. Returning to Australia in 1917, he was prevented from working in academia because of his socialist activism. Instead, he worked for the Labor Party as the private secretary of the politician John Storey. Growing critical of Labor, he wrote an analysis of their policies and joined the radical labour organisation Industrial Workers of the World. Emigrating to London in 1921, he became librarian of the Royal Anthropological Institute and journeyed across Europe to pursue his research into the continent's prehistory, publishing his findings in academic papers and books. In doing so, he introduced the continental European concept of an archaeological culture—the idea that a recurring assemblage of artefacts demarcates a distinct cultural group—to the British archaeological community.

From 1927 to 1946 he worked as the Abercromby Professor of Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh, and then from 1947 to 1957 as the director of the Institute of Archaeology, London. During this period he oversaw the excavation of archaeological sites in Scotland and Northern Ireland, focusing on the society of Neolithic Orkney by excavating the settlement of Skara Brae and the chambered tombs of Maeshowe and Quoyness. In these decades he published prolifically, producing excavation reports, journal articles, and books. With Stuart Piggott and Grahame Clark he co-founded The Prehistoric Society in 1934, becoming its first president. Remaining a committed socialist, he embraced Marxism, and—rejecting culture-historical approaches—used Marxist ideas such as historical materialism as an interpretative framework for archaeological data. He became a sympathiser with the Soviet Union and visited the country on several occasions, although he grew sceptical of Soviet foreign policy following the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. His beliefs resulted in him being legally barred from entering the United States, despite receiving repeated invitations to lecture there. Upon retirement, he returned to Australia's Blue Mountains, where he committed suicide.

One of the best-known and most widely cited archaeologists of the twentieth century, Childe became known as the "great synthesizer" for his work integrating regional research with a broader picture of Near Eastern and European prehistory. He was also renowned for his emphasis on the role of revolutionary technological and economic developments in human society, such as the Neolithic Revolution and the Urban Revolution, reflecting the influence of Marxist ideas concerning societal development. Although many of his interpretations have since been discredited, he remains widely respected among archaeologists. (Full article...)

Related portals

Selected panorama

Topics

Categories

The main category is Islands of Scotland, with subcategories

Category puzzle
Select [►] to view subcategories

Things you can do

Wikiproject

Associated Wikimedia

The following Wikimedia Foundation sister projects provide more on this subject:

Discover Wikipedia using portals