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Hiort – Innse Fàiltiche / Hirta – the Welcoming Isle

11 May 2013

      I’m Kevin Grant, the new NTS archaeologist here on Hirta. I washed up here last Tuesday after an amazing Island-hopping CalMac-tastic journey and I’m starting to settle in.

The best thing about my first week here has been to be welcomed into the community and meet the St Kildans. Our way of life on the Island is probably more unique now that it ever was in the past! QinetiQ personnel, Soay Sheep project researchers, NTS staff, volunteers, and visitors give the Island a busy feel.
View along the coast to base, taken during coastal erosion survey
The photo above shows the real focus of activity for our community – the base. Below you can see one of the lesser seen views on Hirta! I was really surprised by the base, which I actually find quite beautiful. The long, linear, stepped sweep of green buildings is evocative of ripening crops growing in level cultivation platforms – something that would once have been a common sight here. Although some people find the base incongruous with the landscape, we should remember that the 1830’s improvements such as the street, cottages, and head dyke had a far more jarring and dramatic impact on the previous landscape (and the archaeological record) than the arrival of the military base did. It’s also an important reminder that change has always been a defining characteristic of life on Hirta. The base and our current way of life are just another chapter of human interaction with the Archipelago – the St Kildans are alive and well!

Àrsair Hiort/ St Kilda Archaeologist

View across the rear of the base to Mullach Geal/ Mullach Mor

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