Cost: Free

St Kilda: Mapping a Future for the Past

Ordinary Meeting of Fellows (Fellows and Guests Only)

St Kilda: Mapping a Future for the Past

Lecture by Angela Gannon, FSA. 

SALON St KildaThe small and spectacular archipelago of St Kilda lies isolated and windswept in the Atlantic some 100 miles (160km) west from the coast of mainland Scotland. With the last 36 inhabitants evacuated on 30 August 1930, the islands are one of the only 31 global locations that have received Dual World Heritage Status in recognition of their natural and cultural heritage. But despite this accreditation, until recently the locations of the archaeological remains had never been mapped accurately, and their presence had been known only frim local knowledge and sketches drawn onto copies of the Ordnance Survey maps from the 1970s. Working alongside colleagues from National Trust for Scotland (NTS), field staff from the former Royal Comission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland have recorded these remains and have now mapped traces of human occupation dating from the early prehistory right through to the 20th century. This reveals that St Kilda has a remarkably busy and varied archaeological landscape and tells a story of resilience, sustainability and exploitation of natural resources. The archaeological remains demonstrate the St Kildans' unique response to their natural environment, yet at the same time show cultural contacts with the Hebrides and the Highlands of North West Scotland. By mapping these remains, not only will the NTS be able to manage this valuable legacy and ensure its protection well beyond the centenary of thr islands' evacuation, but St Kilda can now be seen as part of a wider and more complex network of relationships and dependencies. 

St Kilda -  The Last and Outmost Isle, published in November 2015, draws on the results of this survey and provides a chronological narrative, reappraising the archipelago's location as one of social and economic inclusion rather than isolation. Angela Gannon, co-author of this publication has donated a copy to the Society's library. 

Image: © Jill Harden.

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