During the summer of 2016 I embarked on the journey of a lifetime. I decided to expand my portfolio and study a subject with international implications. I wanted to find a subject that embodied my main passions for photography which are history, culture, and nature. After a few months of research I concluded that the St Kilda Archipelago located off the Western coast of the Scottish Hebrides was the best personification for what I envisioned in a subject. I coordinated with the National Trust of Scotland over the course of a year and they were generous enough to allow me to camp eight nights on the Isle of Hirta to complete my photo project.
Referred to as the edge of the world, St Kilda is made up of four islands and their adjacent sea stacks. Located about forty miles West of North Uist in the Outer Hebrides, the main island of Hirta is one of the most isolated Island’s in the U.K. In 1986 the island became one of six World Heritage Sites in Scotland and during my trip in 2016 St Kilda was celebrating its 30th anniversary.
The archipelago is also one of thirty-nine locations in the world to be granted mixed World Heritage status for its natural and cultural significance. The islands are home to some of the highest sea cliffs in the U.K. and have some of the largest sea bird colonies in all of Europe.
The different isles of St Kilda are believed to have been occupied for over two millennia dating back to the Bronze Age. The St Kildan people were known for their climbing abilities and they would traverse the ridges of the islands to capture birds and eggs to feed the community. The population is said to have never exceeded 180 people and in 1930 the last inhabitants of the island were finally evacuated.
Many factors contributed to the eventual demise of the St Kildan population. These included the islands remote location, diseases, multiple crop failures in the 1920s, and soil contamination caused by their agricultural practices. In addition after World War One many of the men left the island leaving the population with just thirty-seven inhabitants in 1928. Today the island is owned and cared for by the National Trust for Scotland.
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