are here: Frequently Asked Questions
was St Kilda?
name St Kilda is misleading as there never was a St Kilda associated
with islands. It was first used instead of Hirte, or Hirta, on a
map published in 1540, but for an island near Lewis. On a map of
1592 it was used for the St Kilda archipelago.
word may be a corruption of the Old Norse word 'Skildir' meaning
shields, and possibly refers to the shape of the islands when viewed
from a distance at sea.
do I get there?
from joining an NTS work party
or going on an NTS
cruise, the best way to get to St Kilda is by chartering a boat
(unless you have your own!). Companies offering charters to St Kilda
operate from various ports, including Mallaig, Oban and the Western
Isles. For details of times and prices, you should contact the charter
boat operators directly.
long does it take to get there?
time is dependent on weather and tide conditions, as well as the
type of boat chartered. A motor vessel from Oban, for example, will
probably take around 14 hours minimum to travel to St Kilda. From
the Western Isles it might be around 8 hours. There are times when
the boat has to turn back due to bad weather.
anyone live there?
are no permanent residents on St Kilda today. However, the main
island of Hirta is occupied all year round by the people who work
on the military base, now almost entirely a civilian workforce.
The National Trust for Scotland/Scottish Natural Heritage wardens
are resident on the island from April to September every year. National
Trust for Scotland work parties
visit the islands during the summer months, and many researchers
spend time there studying all aspects of the natural and cultural
there any original St Kildans left?
far as we know there are only three original inhabitants left who
lived there before the evacuation in 1930.
Are any of the evacuees still alive?
A number of
the islanders evacuated in August 1930 are still living on mainland
can I buy postcards, videos, DVDs, etc?
The St Kilda
club run a small shop on St Kilda where you can buy a wide range
of books, postcards, videos and DVDs. These are also available at the
St Kilda Club re-union on the 2nd Saturday in November.
Two one-hour DVDs are available by Mail Order from the producer and cameraman, Chris Mylne - 24 Kinloch View, Blackness Road, Linlithgow, West Lothian, EH49 7HT. They are priced at £17.50 each (incl post and packaging). They are also available as videotapes (VHS/PAL) at approx £20 each from Panamint Cinema (see their website).
Each DVD (or video) covers two half-hour films, with a total running time of approximately 1 hour:
1. "St Kilda" - including "St Kilda Story", the history of the islands as recorded on film from 1908 to 1980, including archive film of the village up to the evacuation of the community in 1930; and "Wildlife of St Kilda" featuring the plants, animals and birds, including a million sea-birds as well as the unique St Kilda wrens, field mice and Soay sheep.
2. "Sea stacks and Solitude" - including "St Kilda, the lonely islands", made for Films of Scotland as shown on BBC1 and BBC2 in 1966, as well as "Fair Isle, the happy island" (1978), a portrait of the other remote island community owned by the National Trust for Scotland and which is still thriving.
produces a range of postcards of St Kilda can be ordered from Colin
Baxter Photography Ltd, Grantown-on-Spey, PH26 3NA or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
the sheep still there? Who looks after them?
the time the people were evacuated, the Lewis Blackface sheep were
removed from Hirta, but still remain on Boreray. Two years later
Hirta was restocked with Soay sheep from the neighbouring island
of Soay. These sheep have remained there ever since, with almost
no active management by humans. This extraordinary population of
sheep has been the subject of scientific study since the mid-1950s,
initially under the Soay Research Team and latterly as part of a
larger, more detailed research project currently being carried out
by the Soay Sheep Project. In particular, the study aims to examine
the patterns of population growth and decline and to determine the
reasons for any changes.
Sheep Project website
there other material about St Kilda not mentioned on this website?
There is a great
wealth of material about St Kilda too much to detail here.
Two major sources are:
The George Washington Wilson Collection, University of Aberdeen
holds an important photographic archive.
Washington Wilson Collection
Queen Mother Library
University of Aberdeen
Aberdeen AB24 3UE
Life Archive has a large archive of material including photographs
Royal Museum of Scotland
Tel: (+44) 0131 225 7534