‘The island of Rum will one day be considered, if not the most remarkable of The Hebrides, at least a very important field of inquiry.’ Edward Daniel Clarke (1797).
Rum contains evidence of some of the earliest human habitation in Scotland; with evidence of a Mesolithic settlement at Loch Scresort dating back 9,000 years. The island suffered from wholesale clearances in the 19th century with the whole island cleared bar one farmer, to be replaced with sheep; for example, Harris once had a population of over 200 people.
This led to the abandonment of many settlements across the island, and wholesale shipment of people to the New World. The island was turned into a shooting estate by the Marquis of Salisbury, who introduced red deer. Thereafter it had a variety of owners, the last private one being the Bullough family who used it as a private sporting estate. They built the sandstone Kinloch Castle, which stands as a monument to a bygone era, and their graves still lie in a mock classical Mausoleum at Harris.
Crofting was introduced to Kinloch Glen in 2009.
Evidence of Canna’s religious history comes from the carved stone cross marking the site of Keill, an ancient Christian settlement dating back to St. Columba’s time; to the west lies the remains of the Nunnery Rubha Sgorr nam Ban-naomha. An ancient cursing stone used by early Christian Pilgrims was recently found on Canna. The round stone with an early Christian cross engraved on it, also known as a “bullaun” stone, is believed to be the first of its type to be found in Scotland, and was discovered by chance in an old graveyard on the island. More commonly found in Ireland, the stones were used by ancient Christian pilgrims, who would turn them either while praying or when laying a curse, and were often to be found on sacred pilgrim routes. Traditionally, the pilgrim would turn the stone clockwise, wearing a depression or hole in a bigger “socket” stone underneath. The Canna stone is approximately 25cm in diameter and is marked with a clearly engraved early Christian cross.
The ‘Rocket’ tower of St. Columba Presbyterian Church resembles many of the Scottish and Irish round towers dating from medieval periods. St. Edwards Catholic Church on Sanday was built for the visiting herring fishermen. It commands a prominent position over the harbour, with the mountains of Rum providing a fitting backdrop. The Church is now the Community Arts Centre. Settlement is nowadays centred around the harbour, although there is much evidence on the ground indicating it was once significantly more widespread.
‘Most of the island is a single farm with the sea as the boundary.’ MacEwen (2008)
Muck’s igneous soils are rich and have produced rich grazing lands, while some land is given over to crop growing. The settlement is related to the farm and is compact. Coastal rocks are generally orientated northwest-southeast.
Muck contains over 300 Greylag geese in winter and in summer the scent of the clover-rich fields is particularly memorable.
The Sgurr makes Eigg distinctive from afar, either appearing as a long, gently-sloping ridge with a vertical end, or when viewed end-on, as a steep-sided cone. It is the largest outcrop of pitchstone in Scotland.
Eigg contains many unimproved meadows, rich in wildflowers.
Welcome to the Location Page
The Small Isles (Scottish Gaelic: Na h-Eileanan Tarsainn) are a small archipelago of islands in the Inner Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland. They lie south of Skye and north of Mull and Ardnamurchan – the most westerly point of mainland Scotland. They consist of the islands of Canna, Eigg, Muck and Rum. They are one of the 40 National Scenic Areas of Scotland.
Each island has a different landscape character and outline that contrast one island with the next, and the sea inevitably plays an important role in setting of and linking the varying shapes of the islands, which make a major contribution to a seaboard of the highest scenic quality.
Size of the Islands:
The 4 islands have an area of 15,202 Hectares, (1 Hectare = 2.471 acres or 10,000 square metres). Rum is the largest of the islands, 10,463 Hectares, or 69% of the total area. Next is Eigg, some 3,050 hectares, 20% of the total area. Canna is 1130 hectares, 7% of the total area, and finally Muck is 559 hectares, 4% of the total area.
The scenery of Rum contains within a small compass nearly all of the elements found in the other inner islands; brown, stepped country of Torridonian sandstone in the north, green grassy terraces separated by cliffs of basaltic lavas in the west, and steep slopes, sharp peaks, and knife-edged ridges in the south, where hard ultrabasic rocks have been carved like the Cuillin gabbro. Massive granite cliffs add yet another group of landforms around Bloodstone Hill, Glen Dibidil is a fine U-shaped valley, and at Kilmory is a stretch of machair and a small line of sand dunes. There is little cultivatable land.
Basalt predominates on Eigg, giving good agricultural land, and a steep-sided ridge of Jurassic sandstone in the north forms impressive cliffs when viewed from the sea. At the southern end of the island the spectacular Sgurr of Eigg is a residual block of pitchstone lava which forms a long undulating ridge of bare grey rock and which, viewed on end, forms a flat-topped tower almost 400m above sea level. On the coast there is a series of large caves. There is a considerable amount of fertile ground, but natural woodland is confined to a few patches of hazel scrub, and mixed woodlands have been planted on the east side of the island.
Muck is a low island of Tertiary basalt giving a stepped profile, but having a rich soil and fine green pasture. The rock has been worn into cliffs and caves at sea level, more interesting than the low rocky headlands of the nearby mainland.
Canna at the far end of the group is like Muck, but higher, with inland cliffs of reddish rock above grassy slopes, and a spectacular coastline of caves, arches and stacks carved from the basalt. The lower island of Sanday, linked by a ridge to Canna, contrasts with the higher ground, and has on it The Church of Saint Edward, now the Arts Centre, which forms a strong landscape feature on the seaward approach to Canna harbour.