Cultural

The authenticity and integrity of the remains on the islands has been assured through the ownership and stewardship of The National Trust for Scotland (NTS). Since 1958, NTS Work Parties have visited the islands to undertake the conservation of the principal buildings and ruins. Even from early days, this work was carried out according to the best conservation practices of the time. Great regard was paid to the authenticity of the appearance of the buildings and materials used in their construction – albeit with a small degree of compromise to allow for the availability of materials and more modern health and safety requirements.

In 1957, just 27 years after the evacuation of the population, the significance of the remains of the village was recognised. The Royal Air Force was at this time establishing their Base on Hirta, and were planning to use the stone from the houses of the Street as road bottoming. However, representatives of the Nature Conservancy and the NTS fought vigorously against this, and thereby secured the future of the remains.


In order to make it possible for Work Parties and researchers to be able to use the islands, a number of buildings have been re-roofed and re-constructed – very largely in accordance with their original appearance. They have been fitted out internally for modern needs but in a way that is reversible. The first six houses of the Street are used for the benefit of short- and long-term visitors:

Fetching waterNo. 1 – Kitchen, communal area, and Leader’s accommodation for Work Parties;

No. 2 – Female Work Party members’ dormitory;

No. 3 – Museum, including some original St Kildan artefacts;

No. 4 – Male Work Party members’ dormitory;

No. 5 – Workshop;

No. 6 – Reconstructed house, with the internal room layout as it would have been in the early 20th century.

Factor’s House – Interior plan retained, now used to accommodate the St Kilda Warden and natural heritage researchers;

Church and Schoolroom –- Re-roofed, repaired, and restored internally. Services held occasionally in the church; schoolroom interior restored and schoolroom furniture used for exhibition purposes;

Store – Ruin reconstructed to appearance before destruction in 1918 by German U-boat. Used to house researchers, and as a store;

Manse –- The only historic building to have been substantially altered internally without regard to its historical layout. Provides accommodation for Base staff, contractors and visitors.

Many other structures along the Street and in the Village Bay area of Hirta have been carefully maintained for over 40 years, and retain their appearance from the time they came into the care of the NTS. Work Parties regularly undertake like-for-like repair of unroofed houses, cleitean (mainly within the Village Bay area) and drystane dykes (walls). Work Parties also undertake conservation painting of the gun beside the Store – installed in 1918 following a U-boat attack.