Kilda in english

The very end of the world (5/5)

Since we started this website, we noticed numerous visits from our Anglo-Saxon internet users. So we decided to translate in English some articles to offer you a better understanding.

On St Kilda, time did not freeze with the departure of the community. A new page is written then, starting point of another story.

One year after the evacuation, the MacLeod family, then owner of the archipelago, decides to sell it to the Count of Dumfries who becomes a short time afterwards the fifth marquis of Bute. This one decides to keep his new unoccupied property and turns it into a sanctuary dedicated to the birds protection.

Nobody lives then on St Kilda and the archipelago passes through the second world war in calm. Lost planes crashed there during the conflict but the island is more than ever the paradise of birds. However, in 1955, the British government integrates the archipelago in its zone of air defence. A few men, civil and military, settle then in a group of buildings designed to observe suspect activities in the Scottish sky. In 1956, the Marquis of Bute died. In his will, he gives as a gift the archipelago to the National Trust for Scotland which accepts it in 1957.

Some scientists have been living on the island since. They observe the local fauna and flora, in particular the emblematic wild sheep of Soay. St Kilda, at this period, obtains the classification of national natural reserve. During the same years, the renovation of Bàgh a Bhaile starts, the damaged village of the community after thirty years of state of neglect. Thus, teams of volunteers come several summers on Hirta in order to restore a few “show houses” and reinforce the ruins, in danger with disappearing.

Boreray and the stacs (photo : Stephen Hodges)

Boreray and the stacs (photo : Stephen Hodges)

The evident interest for St Kilda richness is confirmed in 1986, when the archipelago becomes the first Scottish territory registered as world heritage by Unesco. In 2005, St Kilda confirms its exceptional character and becomes one on the twenty four more visited sites in the world to receive the status of world heritage of mixed type (i.e. combining a natural and cultural heritage of high interest). Thus, in this list, the archipelago stands alongside the prestigious Machu Picchu. Finally, The European Union (EU) also recognizes St Kilda singularity, placing the archipelago in a zone of special protection, dedicated to the protection of numerous species of birds. The reality of a natural major sanctuary and the fragility of the ecosystems naturally lead the National Trust for Scotland and the British Government to regulate the access to islands in order not to introduce unwanted species of animal as the rat. So Kilda cruises, Sea Harris or Seatrek companies organize very regulated excursions in the archipelago. The video they produce will probably make you want to discover, physically, the very end of our world.

That’s how the deeply moving story of St Kilda ends up to now. Tragic destiny of a community out of time, whose harshness of its living conditions appears even more unthinkable today. And if the islanders had stayed there ? And if, despite the common sense which make them leave Hirta, despite all that, they had stayed there ? Simple and useless suppositions can be made. Because the island of the Nothern world would not have been more merciful towards its inhabitants as it has been until now. But freedom is worth all the sacrifices of the world, isn’t it ? Stat Rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus.

Clément B. , translation by Valérie G.


Une réflexion sur “The very end of the world (5/5)

  1. Pingback: The incredible story of men, fishing birds | Kilda

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