Landscape Setting

The amazing landscape setting, the subject of hundreds of published photographs, is one of the principal assets of the cultural landscape of Village Bay. The sheer scale of the hills within which the settlement seems to fit perfectly is awe-inspiring. The lack of the bustle of modern life when standing in the village street, and the sense of being enveloped by the hills, is something that is usually only found in the remotest corners of mountain ranges. On St Kilda you are standing in the middle of an almost intact settlement from nearly two centuries ago, busy with structures from earlier human activity. No relict historic landscape of this period can rival St Kilda in this respect.

An awesome landscape

'Such is the beautiful description of Dover Cliff, by Shakespeare; but what would he have said, could he have looked down from this precipice in St Kilda, which is nearly three times higher, and so tremendous, that one who was accustomed to regard such sights with indifference, dared not venture to the edge of it alone?'

Edward Stanley, 1838, A familiar history of birds; their nature, habits and instincts
(John W. Parker, London)


‘Their greatest treasure on earth…’

Vaeroy Bay - MastadThe village of Mastad on the Lofoten Islands of Norway shares remarkable parallels with St Kilda. For the inhabitants of this remote community the seabirds that nested on the cliffs surrounding their village were their greatest treasure. They harvested the eggs and adult birds and salted the meat to last them through the winter. Puffin was the favourite meat, which they hunted with their unique six toed puffin dog, but razorbills and guillemots were also caught in nets. As on St Kilda the feathers provided a source of income from which they could buy imported goods.

 

Like St Kilda, arable land was at a premium, and the landscape forced a radial pattern of field systems with strong similarities to the village on Hirta. The lack of a proper harbour, and better opportunities elsewhere, resulted in the population declining from about 150 people until it was finally abandoned by its last inhabitant in 1974.