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Recommended Reading

There is a vast quantity of published material relating to St Kilda. The following works are recommended as a good general introduction to the islands:

General Histories and Guides

Most of the recent volumes are still in print and can be obtained through the St Kilda Club shop.

Martin, M. 1698 A Late Voyage to St Kilda London (Reprint 1986 James Thin, The Mercat Press Edinburgh)
Martin, M. 1716 Description of the Western Isles of Scotland London
Martin, M. 1753 A Voyage to St Kilda, (4th ed.) London

Martin was born in Skye, and was for a time tutor to the MacLeod family. He accompanied the minister of Harris, John Campbell, on his annual visit to St Kilda in the summer of 1697, and wrote the first detailed accounts of life in these islands.

Macaulay, K. 1764 The History of St Kilda London
Macaulay was minister of Harris, and visited St Kilda in 1758. This is a very interesting account, and includes material on the major smallpox epidemic of 1727, which almost wiped out the entire population.

Sands, J. 1878 Out of the World; or, Life in St Kilda Edinburgh
Sands was a journalist and visited St Kilda in 1875 and 1876. He was stranded on the islands during the winter of 1876-7, and launched a 'mailboat' to alert the mainland to acute food shortages on St Kilda.

Seton, G. 1878 St Kilda Past and Present Edinburgh (1980 reprint, James Thin, The Mercat Press, Edinburgh. 2000 reprint, Birlinn, Edinburgh)
Seton travelled to St Kilda on the first excursion by the steam ship Dunara Castle and wrote a detailed account of the history and natural history of the islands.

Kearton, R. 1897 With Nature and a Camera London (Reprint Melven Press, Inverness 1978) 
Richard Kearton visited St Kilda with his brother, Cherry, a photographer. His interesting account of St Kilda, at a time when life was changing due to the influx of tourism, is supplemented by his brother's photographs.

Heathcote, N. 1900 St Kilda London
Heathcote was a relative of the islands' proprietor, Reginald MacLeod, and visited St Kilda with his sister, Evelyn. She was an adventurous explorer, climbing over the rocks and going to sea in small boats.

Mackenzie, J.B. 1911 Episode in the life of the Rev. Neil Mackenzie at St Kilda from 1829 to 1843 (privately published.) 
The Rev. Neil Mackenzie was resident minister on St Kilda from 1830 to 1844, living in the new manse, and preaching in the new church, both built in 1827. He had an enormous influence on the life of the islanders, and was responsible for major agricultural improvements and rebuilding of the village.

Williamson, K. and Boyd, J..M. 1960 St Kilda Summer Hutchinson, London 
The authors, representing The National Trust for Scotland and the Nature Conservancy Council, accompanied military personnel on Operation Hardrock to establish the army base on Hirta. Their account covers the history and natural history of the islands, with speculations on archaeological remains.

Quine, D.A. 1988 St Kilda Portraits Downland Press, Frome 
Fascinating memoirs of the St Kildans and visitors to the islands.

Steel, T. 1988 (Revised Edition) Life and Death of St Kilda Fontana, London
An evocative and very readable account of the St Kilda story, which has captured the imagination of many readers.

Charnley, B. 1989 Last Greetings from St Kilda Richard Stenlake, 1 Overdale Street, Langside, Glassgow G42 9PZ
Evocative booklet of postcard photographs from the 1880s to around the time of the evacuation.

RCAHMS 1998 St Kilda: Settlement and Structures on St Kilda RCAHMS, Edinburgh
A 'Broadsheet' map of Village Bay, and descriptions of the archaeological sites and discoveries. Ideal for visitors, and for getting an impression of the history of the islands. Available from RCAHMS.

Quine, D.A. 2000 (Revised Edition) St Kilda Colin Baxter Photography, Grantown-on-Spey
An easy to read guide to the islands, set out as informative self-guided walks. Illustrated with some of Colin Baxter's most spectacular photographs. Probably the best modern introduction to St Kilda.

Quine, D.A. (ed.) 2001 Expeditions to the Hebrides by George Clayton Atkinson in 1831 and 1833 MacLean Press, Skye
A beautifully-illustrated account of a journey to St Kilda in 1831 - just before the old village was swept away and the present village street was created. Fascinating reading, complemented by around 100 recently discovered illustrations from the original journal. Also includes the journal of a journey in the West coast of Scotland in 1833.

Recent Research

Harman, M. 1996 An Isle called Hirte Maclean Press, Isle of Skye
A major work on the history and culture of St Kilda, the result of a Ph.D. project in the School of Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh.

Emery, N. 1996 Excavations on Hirta 1986-90 HMSO, Edinburgh 
Details the results of archaeological investigations on St Kilda by the University of Durham. Contains very interesting information on artefacts imported into St Kilda in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Buchanan, M. (ed.) 1995 St Kilda:The Continuing Story HMSO, Edinburgh
An account of research projects into the history, archaeology and natural history of St Kilda. Written to accompany the exhibition St Kilda Explored at Glasgow Museums 1995-6.


Harris, M..P. and Murray, S. 1989 Birds of St Kilda Institute of Terrestrial Ecology & Natural Environmental Research Council, UK 
Detailed survey of the birds of St Kilda.

Stell, G.P., and Harman M. 1988 Buildings of St Kilda. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland/HMSO, Edinburgh
The results of the RCAHMS survey of St Kilda in the early 1980s.

Jewell, P. A., Milner, C. and Morton Boyd, J. 1974 Island survivors: the ecology of the Soay sheep of St Kilda Athlone Press, London.
The results of a long-term study on the Soay sheep, with a chapter on the vegetation and soils of St Kilda.

© The National Trust for Scotland