St Kilda anniversary marked by launch of two books

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81 years after the last inhabitants left St Kilda, two new books have been launched to mark the continuing interest in the archipelago.

The books were launched at a reception hosted by the National Trust for Scotland which owns St Kilda, in Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square. The last surviving St Kildan, Norman John Gillies attended. A number of St Kilda descendants also came along, as did Nancy MacDonald, whose late husband Lachlan also left along with Mr Gillies in 1930.

St Kilda Property Manager Susan Bain said:

“These two publications mark the continuing fascination with and interest in St Kilda. We are delighted that Tom Steel’s book has been updated, for many this is their first introduction to St Kilda and it provides a fascinating account of the island now brought right up to date.

“The publication of a book on the recent archaeological work is welcomed as it provides an insight into the prehistory of the island and informs us of the strong links between St Kilda and other islands.”

The books launches are:

The Life and Death of St Kilda by Tom Steel

Tom Steel’s acclaimed portrait of the St Kildan’s lives is now updated in this reissued edition. Newly updated to include the historic appointment of St Kilda as the United Kingdom’s only UNESCO Dual Heritage site, the ongoing search for information about the island and the threats that it continues to face, this is the moving story of a vanished community and how twentieth century civilization ultimately brought an entire way of life to its knees.

(www.harpercollins.co.uk/Titles/65498/the-life-and-death-of-st-kilda-tom-steel-9780007438006)

Winds of Change: the living landscape of Hirta by Jill Harden and Olivia Lelong

This volume, interprets archaeological research undertaken on the main island Hirta over the past twenty years. New evidence has emerged through the extremely challenging excavation of structures in screes, the study of agricultural soils and boundaries and the re-examination of enigmatic structural remains on the island, illuminating how people lived and farmed there over the past two millennia and more. The studies were undertaken by archaeologists, geophysicists and palaeo-ecologists, aided by National Trust for Scotland volunteers. This volume presents the results of their work, as well as a review of antiquarian and other archaeological studies on Hirta, and culminated in an interpretation of St Kilda in its context during prehistoric and historic times. (www.socantscot.org/partnumber.asp?pnid=347437)

The launch was sponsored by the National Trust for Scotland and Harper Collins.

Norman John Gillies (centre) is pictured with Winds of Change authors Jill Harden (left) and Olivia Lelong (right).