I think this is my 9th book for Peggy’s Read Scotland 2014 challenge! It is the updated version of The Life and Death of St Kilda, by Tom Steel – yes, yet another book about that little group of rocky islands 40 miles west of the Outer Hebrides. After thousands of years of inhabitation, the harsh life on St Kilda eventually became unsustainable in the early 20th century, to the extent that the few remaining inhabitants asked the British Government to evacuate them to the mainland. The last time I read this book many years ago, it was obviously the previous version I read, as there was a chapter describing the day in 1930 when the villagers left their homes and embarked on the ship that was to take them to their new homes on the mainland. In the updated version of the same title this description has been left out.
Tom Steel, sadly no longer with us, did a lot of research for this book and the Bibliography contains lists as long as your arm of the books, histories, letters, and documents he read. A lot of the story concerns the history and prehistory of Hirta, the main island, some of which was familiar to me as the details came from some of the same sources that I have read, but much of the book describes more modern times of the late 19th, and early 20th centuries when things started to go wrong for the St Kildans, and the subsequent resettlement of the population and what happened next on St Kilda. It isn’t a happily-ever-after ending for most of the evacuees, sadly. Indeed some, disillusioned with life on the mainland, even wanted to return home, but having spent a vast amount on the evacuation, the government were not prepared to let this happen.
Talk again soon.