St Kilda is a world famous archipelago lying 40 miles northwest of North Uist in the Atlantic Ocean. It comprises the westernmost islands of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. The largest island is Hirta, whose imposing sea cliffs are the highest in the United Kingdom. Dún, Soay and Boreray are the three other islands which were used for grazing and seabird hunting by the islanders.

Hirta St Kilda

The MacLeod Estate has close historical links with St Kilda which was only sold by Reginald MacLeod of MacLeod in 1931; a year after the last island inhabitants had been evacuated by the government at their own request. At Dunvegan Castle, there is an exhibition of early photographs of St Kildans taken by Canon Roderick MacLeod in the 1890s along with some unique St Kilda artefacts including a chair, floating mailbox, spinning wheel and ropes used by the islanders for catching seabirds from the cliffs.

The origin of the name St Kilda is a matter of speculation. The islands’ human heritage includes numerous unique architectural features from the historic and prehistoric periods although the earliest written records of island life date from the late Middle Ages. The medieval village on Hirta was rebuilt by the MacLeod Estate in the 19th century after a severe storm, but illnesses triggered by increased external contacts with Victorian tourists and the upheaval of the First World War were factors which eventually lead to the island’s evacuation in 1930.