With nature and a camera
April 29, 2007 11:02 PM   Subscribe

Being the adventures and observations of a field naturalist and an animal photographer - An utterly charming picture of life in Scotland's Outer Hebrides in 1896.
St Kilda - "Many theories have been advanced as to the origin of the inhabitants of this lonely rock, and a curious tradition exists as to its acquisition by members of the outside world. The inhabitants of Harris and Uist agreed to make it the prize for a boat race, and accordingly set out to row across the intervening waste of waters. So equally matched were the crews in regard to pluck and endurance that they arrived at St Kilda almost at the same moment. The Uist men, however, led by a few strokes, and hopes of winning ran high amongst them when Colla MacLeod, the chief of the Harris gang, chopped his left hand off and flung it ashore over the heads of his competitors, and secured St Kilda and its satellites to himself and his descendants for all time."
posted by tellurian (7 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
The women of St Kilda - "As illustrative of the love of gaudy-coloured apparel existent amongst the women of this lonely isle, Seton says, "When the Rev. Neil Mackenzie went to St Kilda in 1830, his servant-maid, a native, asked permission to take the hearth-rug to church by way of a shawl. Regarding her proposal as a joke he innocently assented, and to his infinite astonishment he beheld the girl in his own pew enveloped in the many-coloured carpet, the envied of an admiring congregation! All the women in the island were eager candidates for the 'shawl' on the following morning, some of them offering to give ten birds for its use."
posted by tellurian at 11:05 PM on April 29, 2007

Ah, Colla MacLeod, you gotta hand it to him.
posted by Abiezer at 11:23 PM on April 29, 2007

I heard the same myth about Northern Ireland/Ulster.

Incidentally, I've always found St Kilda a thoroughly spooky place, and was surprised when up a wee hill on North Uist to be able to see it in the distance. I'd always assumed it was too remote to be visible. Sent a shiver down my spine.
posted by imperium at 11:54 PM on April 29, 2007

Mamaaaaa, I just Kilda man....


Nice post, tellurian. There's a lot of romance and mystery in places once inhabited by humans and later abandoned by them.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:21 AM on April 30, 2007

that's a great post.
posted by wilful at 3:41 AM on April 30, 2007

That's intriguing about the hand myth imperium, there's a case for the Smoking Gun.
I love this story;
The Soa sheep "On Soa exclusively is to be found a flock of from two to three hundred peculiar little brown sheep, supposed to be descendants of a few individuals left upon the island by Vikings who called to renew their supply of fresh water… They are absolutely wild, and the St Kildans have a particularly primitive and, I might add, extravagant method of capturing them which I had the good fortune to see in operation."
They used dogs without teeth (so as not to destroy the sheep when it was caught) and leapt barefooted from rock to rock to capture the sheep. When offered an alternative means (nets) said, "They preferred the good old methods that supplied plenty of danger and excitement - two forms of entertainment very dear to the impulsive Celtic heart."
posted by tellurian at 5:57 AM on April 30, 2007

Thanks for this wonderful post!
posted by serazin at 9:35 AM on April 30, 2007

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