Welsh Ynys Môn - island Island and unitary authority off the north-west coast of Wales. Area 720 sq. km / 278 sq. miles;. It is separated from the mainland by the Menai Strait, which is crossed by the Britannia tubular railway bridge and Telford's suspension bridge, originally built between 1819 and 1826 but rebuilt since. The administrative centre is Llangefni; the largest town is Holyhead. It is a holiday resort with rich fauna, notably bird life, and flora, many buildings and relics of historic interest, and a beautiful coastline. Sheep farming and agriculture are the main occupations, and Anglesey was the ancient granary of Wales. It now also has industries such as the manufacture of toys and electrical goods, and bromine extraction from the sea. The port of Holyhead, on the adjoining Holy Island, has an aluminium smelting plant and a ferry service to Ireland. Other towns are Beaumaris and Amlwch, 10 km / 6 miles west of which is Wylfa nuclear power station. The wonderful Beaumaris Castle was built as part of Edward I's campaign to conquer north Wales after 1282. UNESCO considers Beaumaris to be one of "the finest examples of late 13th century and early 14th century military architecture in Europe" and it is classed as a World Heritage site. The island is 34 km / 21 miles long by 31 km / 19 miles broad. Lead, copper, and zinc were once mined here. Anglesey is home to the longest place name in the UK. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch meaning: (St Mary's church in the hollow of the white hazel near the rapid whirlpool of St Tysillio's church, by the red cave).


Large island in the Firth of Clyde, lying between the Kintyre peninsula and the mainland of North Ayrshire, Scotland, area 427 sq. km / 165 sq. miles; population (1991) 4,474. The economy is largely service based, with tourism and craft industries, such as knitwear. Other industries include whisky distilling and food processing. The island, which is mountainous to the north and undulating to the south, is a popular holiday resort. The chief town is Brodick. Arran is the largest island in the Firth of Clyde, and is 32.5 km / 20 miles long and 17 km / 11 miles broad at its widest part. The highest point is Goat Fell (874 m / 2,868 ft). Machrie Moor dates from the Bronze Age (3000- 4000 years ago) and has stone circles, single stones, hut circles, and burial cists. Drumadoon Point is the site of an Iron Age fort. The shoreline that encircles the coast of Arran forms a low platform, which rises abruptly to the high peaks in the north and north-east. Much of the southern half of the island is forested. There are red deer in the wilder hilly district, and grouse, wild geese, and duck. The geology of Arran is of particular interest, as within its comparatively confined limits the distinct sections of several geological formations can be observed. The oldest part of Brodick Castle dates from the 13th century. Other Arran villages include Lamlash, which possesses a fine natural harbour, and Whiting Bay. Car ferries link Brodick and Ardrossan on the mainland and Lochranza and Claonaig (Kintyre); in summer there is also a ferry link between Brodick and Rothesay (Bute).

Bardsey Island

Welsh Ynys Enlli - Welsh ‘island of the currents’ Island in Gwynedd, off the coast of north-west Wales. It is a former pilgrimage centre, and has a 6th-century ruined abbey. It is sometimes called the island of 20,000 graves, as that number of saints are reputed to be buried here. About 3 km / 1.9 miles long and 1.6 km / 1 miles wide, it is only accessible on the south-east side where there is a small, well-sheltered harbour. According to legend, Bardsey (or Bards' Ey, the Isle of Bards) was the last retreat of Welsh bards. The abbey was suppressed by Henry VIII. Numerous graves lined with stone, a large building said to have been the abbot's lodge, and a ruined chapel or oratory are the only remains. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and has a bird and field observatory.


Southern island of the larger Outer Hebrides, Scotland, part of the Western Isles unitary council area; area 90 sq. km / 35 sq. miles. It is separated from South Uist by the Sound of Barra. The main town is Castlebay. The main economies are fishing and tourism. Scheduled air services land at low tide on the beach at Traigh Mhor in the north. Car ferries sail from Castlebay to and from Oban, Lochboisdale on South Uist, and Mallaig on the mainland. The medieval Kisimul Castle, once home of the piratical clan McNeil, is situated on a rock off Castlebay. The novelist Compton Mackenzie is buried at St Barr's church.


or Beinn na Faoghla Island of the Outer Hebrides in Western Isles unitary authority, Scotland, about 25 km / 16 miles west of Skye. It lies between North and South Uist, with causeway links, and covers an area of about 9,200 sq. km / 3,552 sq. miles. An airport is located at Balivanich (or Baile a Mhanaich). The highest point is Rueval, barely 124 m / 406 ft above sea level. Numerous lochan (inland waters) provide freshwater fishing. Crofting (a form of subsistence farming) is the main occupation of the islanders, and a large military base administers a rocket range on South Uist.


The Isle of Bute is an island in the Firth of Clyde in Scotland. It is divided into highland and lowland areas by the Highland Boundary Fault. Formerly a constituent island of the larger County of Bute, it is now part of the council area of Argyll and Bute. The island was also known during the Viking era as Rothesay. The name was eventually taken by the main town on the island, whose Gaelic name is Baile Bhòid and is linked by ferry to the mainland. North Bute forms part of the Kyles of Bute National Scenic Area, one of 40 in Scotland and a spectacularly beautiful sailing area.

Caldey Island

Welsh: Ynys Bŷr Caldey is a small island near Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales, less than 1 mile (1.6 km) off the coast. With a recorded history going back over 1,500 years, it is one of the holy islands of Britain. A number of traditions inherited from Celtic times are observed by the Cistercian monks of Caldey Abbey, the owners of the island. The island's population consists of about 40 permanent residents and a varying number of Cistercian monks, known as Trappists. The monks' predecessors migrated there from Belgium in the early 20th century, taking over from Anglican Benedictines who had bought the island in 1906 and built the extant monastery and abbey but later got into financial difficulties. Today, the monks of Caldey Abbey rely on tourism and making perfumes and chocolate. The usual access to the island is by boat from Tenby, 2.5 miles (4.0 km) to the north. In the spring and summer, visitors are ferried to Caldey, not only to visit the sacred sanctuary but also to view the island's rich wildlife. Following a rat eradication programme, red squirrels were introduced in 2016. Alongside rare breed sheep and cattle, the island has a diverse bird and plant life.

Channel Islands

Group of islands in the English Channel, off the north-west coast of France; they are a possession of the British crown. They comprise the islands of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Great and Little Sark, with the lesser Herm, Brechou, Jethou, and Lihou. Area: 194 sq. km / 75 sq. miles Features: very mild climate, productive soil; financially the islands are a tax haven Industries: farming, fishing, and tourism; flowers, early potatoes, tomatoes, butterflies, and dairy cattle are exported Famous people: Lillie Langtry Government: the main islands have their own parliaments and laws. Unless specially signified, the Channel Islands are not bound by British acts of Parliament, though the British government is responsible for defence and external relations Originally under the duchy of Normandy, they are the only part still held by Britain. The islands came under the same rule as England 1066, and are dependent territories of the British crown. Germany occupied the islands June 1940-May 1945, the only British soil to be occupied by the Germans during World War II.


Largest of the Channel Islands Capital St Helier; area 117 sq. km / 45 sq. miles; population (1991) 58,900. It is governed by a lieutenant governor representing the English crown and an assembly. Jersey cattle were originally bred here. Jersey gave its name to a woollen garment. The island was occupied 1940-45 by German forces. Mont Orgueil Castle overlooking Gorey Harbour on the east coast dates back to 1212 and was the primary defence of Jersey until the development of gunpowder. It commands spectacular views of the surrounding area. The fabulous Jersey zoo, founded in 1959 by Gerald Durrell is engaged in breeding some of the world's endangered species. In many areas around the zoo you can wander amongst the animals and even get close to those that are in protected enclosures.


Second largest of the Channel Islands ; area 63 sq. km / 24.3 sq. miles; population (1991) 58,900. The capital is St Peter Port. Products include electronics, tomatoes, flowers, and butterflies; from 1975 it has been a major financial centre. Guernsey cattle, which are a distinctive pale fawn colour and give rich, creamy milk, originated here. The island has no jury system; instead, it has a Royal Court with 12 jurats (full-time unpaid jurors appointed by an electoral college) with no legal training. This system dates from Norman times. Jurats cannot be challenged or replaced.


Third largest of the Channel Islands, with its capital at St Anne's; area 8 sq. km / 3 sq. miles; population (1991) 2,300. It gives its name to a breed of cattle, better known as the Guernsey. It exports early potatoes.


One of the Channel Islands, 10 km / 6 miles E of Guernsey; area 5 sq. km / 2 sq. miles; population (1991) 575. There is no town or village. It is divided into Great and Little Sark, linked by an isthmus, and is of great natural beauty. The Seigneurie of Sark was established by Elizabeth I, the ruler being known as Seigneur / Dame, and has its own parliament, the Chief Pleas. There is no income tax, divorce and cars are forbidden, and immigration is controlled.


One of the smallest of the Channel Islands; area 1.3 sq. km / 0.5 sq. miles. It is a holiday resort, separated from Guernsey, some 6 km / 4 miles distant, by the Little Russel Passage. Herm is administratively part of Guernsey. Tourism and dairy farming are the island's main industries. The island has prehistoric remains, and a beach where a great diversity of shells can be found.


One of the smallest of the Channel Islands, within the bailiwick of Guernsey; area 0.18 sq. km / .069 sq. miles. An almost circular hump-shaped mass of granite, it lies 6 km / 4 miles west of St Peter Port, the capital of Guernsey, and is separated from the island of Herm to its north-west by a narrow passage.


Small island of the Inner Hebrides, in Argyll and Bute unitary authority, Scotland, extending 19 km / 12 miles in length, 16 km / 10 miles west of mainland Ardnamurchan Point and 2 km / 1 miles north of Tiree. Its terrain is low and rocky, with small bays and sandy machair (grassy coastal plains) on the western shores. The island was once renowned for its cattle and cheese, but production has fallen as crofting (a form of subsistence farming) has declined. Arinagour, on the east coast, is the principal village and harbour.


Small island of the Inner Hebrides, in Argyll and Bute unitary authority, Scotland, 13 km / 8 miles in length, situated 16 km / 10 miles west of Jura. Oronsay, its companion island to the south, is separated only at high tide. The landscape is mainly rocky with some areas of natural woodland, and several sandy bays. Sheep and cattle farming remain the principal occupation. Tourism is limited, with only one hotel on the island and no camping or caravan facilities; the wide variety of bird-life, however, continues to attract a limited number of enthusiasts. Scalasaig, on the east coast, is the main harbour and village.


Island of the Inner Hebrides, in Highland unitary authority, Scotland; 20 km / 12 miles south-west of Mallaig on the mainland. Extending over an area of 40 sq. km / 15 sq. miles, it is one of a group collectively known as the Small Isles. Crofting (a form of subsistence farming) is the main occupation. The residents of Eigg bought their island in April 1997 after an eight-month ownership battle. The islanders' victory marked the end of private ownership which had dominated the island since 1308. In December 1996, an initial bid by the islanders of £1.2 million had been rejected by the then owner, a German artist, and a month later the trustees of the Heritage Lottery Fund turned down their appeal for financial help. Finally, an English millionairess, who has remained anonymous, was believed to have given them around £900,000 - the bulk of the £1.5 million purchase price.


or Eirosgaigh Island of the Outer Hebrides, in Western Isles unitary authority, Scotland, between South Uist and Barra. The main occupations are fishing and crofting (a form of subsistence farming). Prince Charles Edward Stuart, the Young Pretender, reached Eriskay in 1745, making his first landing on Scottish soil. In 1941 the SS Politician was shipwrecked on the island, with a cargo of 20,000 cases of whisky. This event inspired Compton Mackenzie's comic novel Whisky Galore (1947) and Alexander Mackendrick's film (1949) of the same title.


Part of the Outer Hebrides, area 500 sq. km / 193 sq. miles. It is joined to Lewis by a narrow isthmus. Harris tweed cloths are produced here. Luskentyre derives from Lios-cinn-tir, meaning 'headland fort', although there is no trace or local knowledge of a fort at the headland. However, the headland contains the site of an old part of Luskentyre Cemetery. Luskentyre Beach has been voted Britain's best beach. Harris is mountainous in the north. The east coast of Harris is rocky, unlike the western coast with its fine shell sand beaches. Tarbert is the main settlement and terminal for car ferries from Skye and North Uist. An t'Ob on the south coast was renamed Leverburgh on the death of Lord Leverhulme in 1925. He had a grand economic plan to develop the town into a major fishing port. On his death, the scheme foundered.


The Island of Taransay, just off the west coast of South Harris was the location of a BBC television programme in which a group of volunteers from the general public were castaway on the uninhabited island for a year.

The Hebrides

Group of more than 500 islands (fewer than 100 inhabited) off the west coast of mainland Scotland; total area 2,900 sq. km / 1,120 sq. miles. The Hebrides were settled by Scandinavians during the 6th-9th centuries and passed under Norwegian rule from about 890 to 1266.

The Inner Hebrides

are divided between Highland and Argyll and Bute authorities, and include Raasay, Rum, Muck, Eigg, Scalpay, Skye (Highland) and Mull, Jura, Islay, Iona, Coll, Tiree, Colonsay, and uninhabited Staffa (Argyll and Bute).

The Outer Hebrides

form the islands area of the Western Isles authority, separated from the Inner Hebrides by the Little Minch. They include Harris / Lewis, North Uist, South Uist, Benbecula, Barra, Eriskay and St Kilda.

Holy Island

or Holyhead Island, Welsh Ynys Gybi Rocky and barren island west of the Isle of Anglesey, north-west Wales; length 13 km / 8 miles, width 6 km / 4 miles. It is connected to Anglesey by a sandy causeway. The island is a centre for surfing and sea angling, and Trearddur on Penrhos Bay is a seaside resort. Holy Island is designated as an Environmentally Sensitive Area with some Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. South Stack Lighthouse, which was completed in 1809, is sited 41 m (135 ft) above the sea on South Stack. Its lamp tower is 28 m (92 ft)-tall and the lighthouse complex covers seven acres (2.8 ha). There are over 390 stone steps and 10 metal steps down to the footbridge. South Stack is a sea stack island, it was formed by the wave erosion of sedimentary rocks that once connected the island to the mainland. The island is one of the oldest sites of human settlement in Wales, and has numerous prehistoric and Roman remains. Ancient remains on the island include an Iron-Age hill fort and a Roman watchtower on Holyhead mountain (Welsh Mynydd Twr, 200 m / 656 ft).


Island in the Inner Hebrides; area 850 hectares / 2,100 acres. A centre of early Christianity, it is the site of a monastery founded 563 by St Columba. It later became a burial ground for Irish, Scottish, and Norwegian kings. It has a 13th-century abbey.


Southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides, on the west coast of Scotland, in Argyll and Bute, separated from Jura by the Sound of Islay; area 610 sq. km / 235 sq. miles. The principal towns are Bowmore, Port Charlotte, and Port Ellen. It is renowned for its malt whisky and its wildlife, which includes eagles and rare wintering geese. The highest summit is Beinn Bheigeir (491 m / 1,611 ft). Loch Finlaggan, near Port Askaig in the north, was once the site of the principal seat of the ‘Lord of the Isles’ during the 14th and 15th centuries. The Kidalton Cross, 11 km / 7 miles north-east of Port Ellen, is one of the best-preserved Celtic crosses in Scotland. There are seven whisky distilleries on the island. Car ferry services connect Islay (Port Askaig) to Oban on the mainland via Scalascaig (Colonsay), and Port Askaig and Port Ellen to Kennacraig on the mainland.


Island of the Inner Hebrides, Argyll and Bute; area 380 sq. km / 147 sq. miles; population (1991) 196. It is separated from the Scottish mainland by the Sound of Jura. The whirlpool Corryvreckan (Gaelic ‘Brecan's cauldron’) is off the north coast. It has a range of mountains known as the ‘Paps of Jura’, the highest of which is Beinn an Oir at 784 m / 2,572 ft. Jura is the only major Scottish island without a direct link to the mainland.


or Lewis-with-Harris Largest and most northerly island in the Outer Hebrides, Western Isles; area 2,220 sq. km / 857 sq. miles. Its main town is Stornoway. It is separated from north-west Scotland by the Minch. The island is 80 km / 50 miles long from north to south, and its greatest breadth is 45 km / 28 miles. There are many lochs and peat moors. The Callanish standing stones on the west coast are thought to be up to 5,000 years old, second only to Stonehenge in archaeological significance in the UK. Harris and Lewis are often assumed to be two separate islands, but they are linked by a narrow neck of land. The coast is indented on the east and west coasts. The most northerly point is the Butt of Lewis. Much of the south and south-west of the island is rugged and mountainous, while northern and central Lewis is dominated by an undulating peat bog. The chief occupations are crofting and fishing. Oats and potatoes are grown, and sheep and cattle are raised. There are many archaeological remains; the standing stones at Callanish, a circle of 47 stones 24 km / 15 miles west of Stornaway, are thought to date from between 3,000 and 1,500 BC. Lews Castle (1856- 63) was presented to the town by Lord Leverhulme, and now houses a technical college. Daily flights link the island with Inverness and Glasgow. A car ferry service connects Stornaway to Ullapool on the mainland.

Lundy Island

Rocky, granite island at the entrance to the Bristol Channel; 19 km / 12 miles north-west of Hartland Point, Devon, south-west England; area 9.6 sq. km / 3.7 sq. miles; Formerly used by pirates and privateers as a lair, it is now the site of a bird sanctuary and the first British Marine Nature Reserve (1986). It has Bronze and Iron Age field systems, which can be traced by their boundaries which stand up above the surface. Lundy used to be known as Puffin island due to the large numbers but the rat numbers decimated the population. Since the elimination of rats in 2006, numbers have increased but are now massively outnumbered by Manx shearwaters. The land is used mainly as pasture for sheep and goats, and the island has large breeding colonies of sea birds, including puffins and peregrines, and a thriving population of grey seals. At the northern and southern extremities are lighthouses, and there are the remains of the 13th-century Marisco Castle. The island was purchased by British millionaire Jack Hayward in 1969, who donated it to the National Trust. It is managed by the Landmark Trust. The population increases significantly during the summer tourist season. Visitors are mostly based in local, restored buildings, including the old lighthouse. Contact with the Devon mainland is mainly by ferry to Bideford or Ilfracombe.

Isle of Man

Island in the Irish Sea, a dependency of the British crown, but not part of the UK Area: 570 sq. km / 220 sq. miles Capital: Douglas Towns and cities: Ramsey, Peel, Castletown Features: Snaefell 620 m / 2,035 ft; annual TT (Tourist Trophy) motorcycle races, gambling casinos, Britain's first free port, tax haven; tailless Manx cat Industries: light engineering products; agriculture, fishing, tourism, banking, and insurance are important Currency: the island produces its own coins and notes in UK currency denominations Government: crown-appointed lieutenant-governor, a legislative council, and the representative House of Keys, which together make up the Court of Tynwald, passing laws subject to the royal assent. Laws passed at Westminster only affect the island if specifically so provided History: Norwegian until 1266, when the island was ceded to Scotland; it came under UK administration 1765.


Second largest island of the Inner Hebrides, Argyll and Bute, Scotland; area 950 sq. km / 367 sq. miles; It is mountainous, and is separated from the mainland by the Sound of Mull and the Firth of Lorne; it lies 11 km / 7 miles west of Oban. The main town is Tobermory, from which there are ferry connections to Oban; Craignure is also connected by ferry to Oban. The economy is based on fishing, forestry, tourism, and stock rearing. The west coast of Mull is indented with sea lochs, of which the main ones are Loch-na-Keal and Loch Scridain. The highest peak is Ben More (966 m / 3,171 ft). On the south coast of the island, the Carsaig Arches are a series of columnar black basalt caves and arches, said to have been used as a hiding-place by nuns during the Reformation. The island of Mull has the most extensive set of ferry connections among the Scottish islands.

Orkney Islands

Island group and unitary authority off the north-east coast of Scotland Area: 1,014 sq. km / 391 sq. miles Towns: Kirkwall (administrative headquarters), Stromness, both on Mainland (Pomona) Physical: group of 90 islands and inlets. The surface of the islands is irregular and indented by many arms of the sea. Next to Mainland, the most important of the islands are North and South Ronaldsay, Hoy, Rousay, Stronsay, Flotta, Shapinsay, Eday, Sanday, and Westray. The highest peak is Ward Hill in Hoy, which has an elevation of 479 m / 1,572 ft. The Old Man of Hoy is an isolated stack of red sandstone 137 m / 450 ft high, off Hoy's north-west coast Features: Skara Brae Neolithic village, and Maes Howe burial chamber; Scapa Flow; oil terminal on Flotta Industries: offshore oil, woollen weaving, wind-powered electricity generation, distilling, boat-building, fish curing Agriculture: fishing, beef cattle, dairy products Famous people: Edwin Muir, John Rae Population of Scandinavian descent; Harald I (Fairhair) of Norway conquered the islands in 876; pledged to James III of Scotland in 1468 for the dowry of Margaret of Denmark; Scapa Flow, between Mainland and Hoy, was a naval base in both world wars, the German fleet scuttled itself here on 21 June 1919. Burgar Hill has the world's most productive wind-powered generator; a 300 kW wind turbine with blades 60 m / 197 ft in diameter, capable of producing 20% of the islands' energy needs. Many brochs, chambered cairns, and burial mounds remain as evidence of prehistoric and Norse settlements. The Neolithic dwellings of Skara Brae are important examples. The Orkneys, under the name ‘Orcades’, are mentioned by ancient geographical writers, including Pliny and Ptolemy. In 876 Harold I (Harald Haarfager) conquered the Orkneys and the Hebrides. During most of the 10th century the Orkney Islands were ruled by independent Scandinavian jarls (earls), but in 1098 became subject to the Norwegian crown and remained Scandinavian until 1468, when they were given to James III as security for his wife's dowry. In 1590, on the marriage of James VI with the Danish Princess Anne, Denmark formally resigned all pretensions to the sovereignty of the Orkneys. However, during their long connection with Norway and Denmark, all traces of the primitive Celtic population disappeared, and the present inhabitants are of Scandinavian stock. In the mid-19th century there was a big influx of farmers from Aberdeenshire and other parts of north-east Scotland, and two world wars also brought many others to reside permanently in Orkney. Scapa Flow, between Mainland and Hoy, was a naval base in both world wars, and the German fleet scuttled itself here on 21 June 1919. The climate of the Orkney Islands is mild, owing to the Gulf Stream. At the season of the longest day, there is almost no darkness for about six weeks, and during the summer solstice photographs can be taken at midnight. The area has a buoyant mixed economy. While the predominant industry is agriculture and other ‘community’ industries, such as fishing, crafts, and knitwear, are important, the economic vitality of the islands is largely attributable to the development of the oil industry in the 1980s. There are 34 Sites of Special Scientific Interest, five Special Protection Areas, and one National Scenic Area.

Isles of Scilly

or Scilly Isles / Islands, or Scillies Group of 140 islands and islets lying 40 km / 25 miles south-west of Land's End, England; administered by the Duchy of Cornwall; area 16 sq. km / 6.3 sq. miles; population (1991) 2,050. The five inhabited islands are St Mary's, the largest, on which is Hugh Town, capital of the Scillies; Tresco, the second largest, with subtropical gardens; St Martin's, noted for its beautiful shells; St Agnes; and Bryher. Products include vegetables and early spring flowers, and tourism is important. The islands have remains of Bronze Age settlements. The numerous wreck sites off the islands include many of Sir Cloudesley Shovell's fleet (1707). The islands are an important birdwatching centre with breeding sea birds in the summer and rare migrants in the spring and autumn. The islands are the property of the Crown (with the exception of Hugh Town, St Mary's, the property in which was sold freehold to the occupiers in 1949) and are administered by the Duchy of Cornwall. However, the island of Tresco, the most beautiful, is leased to R A Dorrien-Smith, together with the uninhabited islands of the group. Farms are small, but well equipped. The average holding is approximately 8 ha / 20 acres, with the land divided into small squares surrounded by tall hedges of Pittosporum, a New Zealand plant with a thick evergreen foliage. These hedges protect the crops from the Atlantic gales. Much land has been drowned by the encroaching sea and by slow subsidence. Frost and snow are a rare occurrence. The climate is a great factor in the islands' main industry, the growing of spring flowers for market. There is an air service between Penzance airport on the mainland and St Mary's, and a boat service between St Mary's and Penzance. The islands are crowded with prehistoric burial chambers, menhirs (upright stone monuments), middens, and hut villages. The stone-chambered barrows evidently represent a provincial extension of the great megalithic culture of Brittany, as might be inferred from the geographical setting of the islands. It is thought possible that they may have been the special home of the dead, known in Celtic mythology. The English antiquary William Camden (1551-1623) identified the Scilly Isles with the fabled islands called the Cassiterides, to which came the Phoenician traders, but there is no proof. Tin was worked in Cornwall in the early Iron Age and in Roman times, but there is no trace of tin workings in the Scilly Isles. Some, at least, of the villages belong to the Bronze Age, and to this time also may be attributed the ancient walls of an early field system, examples of which are occasionally to be seen below present sea level.


Island of the Inner Hebrides group, in west Highland unitary authority, Scotland, about 2 km / 1 miles east of Skye. It extends over an area 20 km / 12 miles long and 3 km / 2 miles wide. Agricultural activities such as farming, crofting (a form of subsistence farming), and forestry are the principal occupations. The sea around Raasay is the Deepest Water in Britain.


British islet in the Atlantic, 24 m / 80 ft across and 22 m / 65 ft high, part of the Hatton-Rockall bank, and 370 km / 230 miles W of North Uist in the Hebrides. The bank is part of a fragment of Greenland that broke away 60 million years ago. It is in a potentially rich oil / gas area. A party of British marines landed 1955 formally to annex Rockall, but Denmark, Iceland, and Ireland challenge Britain's claims for mineral, oil, and fishing rights. The Rockall Trough between Rockall and Ireland, 250 km / 155 miles wide and up to 3,000 m / 10,000 ft deep, forms an ideal marine laboratory. A 1995 study by the Natural History Museum of 17 seabed sites (including the Great Barrier Reef and the San Diego Trough) revealed that the Rockall Trough had more species than any other site, and greater biodiversity than a coral reef. In 4 cubic metres / 5 cubic yards of sediment there were 325 species of worm.


or Rhum Island of the Inner Hebrides, Highland unitary authority, Scotland, area 110 sq. km / 42 sq. miles, a nature reserve since 1957. Askival is 810 m / 2,658 ft high. The island is owned by Scottish National Heritage, known as the Nature Conservatory Council when the island was purchased in 1957. The island is served by passenger ferries from the port of Kinloch to Muck, Canna, Eigg, and Mallaig on the mainland.


Island off the north coast of Kent, south-east England; area 80 sq. km / 31 sq. miles; Situated at the mouth of the River Medway, it is linked with the mainland by Kingsferry Bridge (road and rail, completed in 1960) over the River Swale. The resort and port of Sheerness is here. There is a nature reserve in the southern part of the island. Arable farming is important in the north of the island; in the south of the island the reclaimed marshes are used for grassland farming, particularly sheep grazing. Agricultural produce includes cereals and vegetables. Other industries include tourism, and - in west Sheppey - ceramics, pharmaceuticals, and steel making.

Shetland Islands

Old Norse Hjaltland ‘high land’ or ‘Hjalte's land’ Islands and unitary authority off the north coast of Scotland, 80 km / 50 miles north-east of the Orkney Islands, an important centre of the North Sea oil industry, and the most northerly part of the UK Area: 1,452 sq. km / 560 sq. miles Towns: Lerwick (administrative headquarters), on Mainland, largest of 12 inhabited islands Physical: the 100 islands are mostly bleak, hilly, and clad in moorland. The climate is moist, cool, and windy; in summer there is almost perpetual daylight, whilst winter days are very short. On clear winter nights, the aurora borealis (‘northern lights’) can frequently be seen in the sky Industries: processed fish, hand knits from Fair Isle and Unst, herring fishing, salmon farming, cattle and sheep farming; large oil and gas fields west of Shetland; Europe's largest oil port is Sullom Voe, Mainland; production at Foinaven oilfield, the first to be developed in Atlantic waters; tourism Dialect derived from Norse, the islands having been a Norse dependency from the 9th century until 1472 when they were annexed by Scotland. A buoyant mixed economy which had prospered with the development of the North Sea oil industry. Traditional sectors still play an important part in the economy. Shetland is rich in archaeological sites, the best known of which are Jarlshof, Mousa, and Clickhimin Broch. Clickhimin Broch forms an island at the end of a causeway near Lerwick and was inhabited from c. 6 BC to AD 5. At Mousa, the Picts successfully sought refuge from Roman slave hunters. The settlement site at Jarlshof dates from the Bronze Age. In 1993 the Braer ran aground on Shetland spilling 85,000 tonnes of oil. By February 1994, 50,000 birds, mostly guillemots and other fish-eating species, were washed up around the Islands. They appeared to have starved to death. There are 78 Sites of Special Scientific Interest, three National Nature Reserves, nine Special Protection Areas, and one National Scenic Area.


Largest island of the Inner Hebrides, Highland region, off the west coast of Scotland; area 1,740 sq. km / 672 sq. miles; population (1991) 8,900. It is separated from the mainland to the south-east by the Sound of Sleat and by the islands of Raasay and Scalpay to the north-east. The chief port and town is Portree. The economy is based on crofting, craft industries, tourism, and livestock. The Skye Bridge, a privately financed toll bridge to Kyleakin on the island from the Kyle of Lochalsh, was completed in 1995. Bonnie Prince Charlie (Charles Edward Stuart) took refuge here after the Battle of Culloden. Much of the island is underlain by Tertiary volcanic rocks, and the scenery of the central part is very mountainous, rising to over 1,000 m / 3,280 ft. The coastline is deeply indented by numerous sea lochs, and most of the settlements are coastal. Large areas of the northern and central western parts of the island have now been planted as forest. The island is 75 km / 47 miles long and 25 km / 16 miles wide. Numerous car ferries serve the island: Armadale is connected to Mallaig on the mainland; Uig to Tarbert (Harris); Uig to Lochmaddy (North Uist); and Sconser to Raasay.


Uninhabited island in the Inner Hebrides, W of Mull. It has a rugged coastline and many caves, including Fingal's Cave. Fingal's Cave is lined with volcanic basalt columns, and is 70 m / 230 ft long and 20 m / 65 ft high. Visited by the German Romantic composer Felix Mendelssohn in 1829, the cave was the inspiration of his Hebridean overture, otherwise known as Fingal's Cave.

St. Kilda

Islands of the Outer Hebrides, Western Isles, Scotland, 45 miles west of North Uist. Bleak and windswept, their volcanic rock rises 1,400 ft forming the highest cliffs in Britain. The islanders were evacuated in 1930 and the island has been uninhabited ever since except for occasional army and tourist visitors. The islands are home to thousands of sea birds and Britain's only truly wild sheep, named after the island of Soay. Soays are small goat like sheep that are thought to date back to 3000 BC.


Island of the Inner Hebrides, in Argyll and Bute unitary authority, Scotland, 21 km / 13 miles west of Mull and 2 km / 1 miles south-west of Coll. An elevated area rises to the west, but the majority of its terrain is flat and low-lying, three-quarters of Tiree's 77 sq. km / 48 sq. miles being less than 20 m / 66 ft above sea level. The main settlement is Scarinish on the east coast. Sand dunes and fertile machair (shoreline grasslands) cover a third of the island, and its dry, sunny climate encourages the farming of rich fodder crops and cattle stock, as well as a thriving tourist industry. Island connections include an air service to Glasgow from Reef airfield, and ferry links to the islands of Coll, Mull, and mainland Oban.

North Uist

Island of the Outer Hebrides, Western Isles, Scotland. Lochmaddy is the main port and town. There is a Royal Society for the Protection of Birds reserve at Balranald. North Uist is connected to Benbecula to the south by the island of Grimsay and two stone causeways. The crofting population is found on the north and west coasts. The interior consists of peat bogs and many lochs. Eaval (347 m / 1,138 ft), on the south-east coast, rises abruptly from the generally lowland landscape. There are many important Iron Age sites, especially on the Machair lands of the north and west coasts. In the south-west, at Carinish, there are the ruins of a 13th-century monastery and college, Trinity Temple (1203). Balranald is home to the corncrake, one of Europe's most endangered species. North Uist is served by car ferries to Berneray (from Otternish), Uig on Skye (from Lochmaddy), and Leverburgh on Harris.

South Uist

Second largest island in the Outer Hebrides, Western Isles, Scotland, separated from North Uist by the island of Benbecula. The main town and port with connections to the mainland is Lochboisdale. Most of the population live in crofting townships on the west coast. There are hundreds of lochs in the central area of the island; the east coast is mountainous and dissected by sea lochs. The island is connected by car ferries from Lochboisdale, to Mallaig on the mainland, Castlebay (Barra), Eriskay, and Oban on the mainland.

Isle of Wight

Island and unitary authority of southern England. The Isle of Wight is a county and the largest and second-most populous island in England. It is in the English Channel, between two and five miles off the coast of Hampshire, separated by the Solent. The island has resorts that have been holiday destinations since Victorian times, and is known for its mild climate, coastal scenery, and verdant landscape of fields, downland and chines. The Isle of Wight has its own separate entry in the Guide
The British Isles is a group of islands off the north-west coast of Europe, consisting of Great Britain (England, Wales, and Scotland), Ireland, the Channel Islands, the Orkney and Shetland islands, the Isle of Man, and many other islands that are included in various counties, such as the Isle of Wight, Scilly Isles, Lundy Island, and the Inner and Outer Hebrides. The islands are divided from Europe by the North Sea, Strait of Dover, and the English Channel, and face the Atlantic to the west.