A remote island group 65 km to the west of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, inhabited from ancient times until finally evacuated in 1930. Its cliffs are very rich in bird life and it is a World Heritage site.

The main island is called Hirta, with Soay "sheep island" and Dún right next to it. To the north-east is Boreray, accompanied by two stacs (or stacks), tall piles of rock emerging from the sea. Stac an Armin is 191 m and Stac Lee is 165 m.

Evidence exists for habitation thousands of years ago, and for early Christian and Norse settlement. The name St Kilda is thoughout to derive from Old Norse skildir "shields", from the appearance of the islands from a distance. There was no saint called Kilda.

Their landlord was The Macleod, who lived on Skye. He sold the islands in 1779, and bought them back in 1871. Normally they were visited only once a year, by the landlord's factor, accompanied by a minister to perform whatever marriages and baptisms might be required. They got a resident minister in the early nineteenth century, and a school in 1884. A jetty was built only in 1901. They did not adopt the Gregorian calendar until 1912.

The St Kildans lived on the rich fishing grounds, on their peculiar strain of sheep (the ancient Soay sheep have remained untended on the uninhabited islands and been studied by scientists), on catching seabirds such as the fulmar, gannet, and puffin, and on a certain amount of agriculture. There was a village called The Village; in the mid nineteenth-century stone-roofed houses replaced thatched ones. They stored their food in stone larders or barns called cleitean.

The population was around 180 in 1700, and spoke Gaelic. In 1726 one man visited the Hebrides and died of smallpox. They sent his clothes back and they killed every adult but one on the main island, and the only other survivors were marooned on Stac an Armin eating gannets... for nine months. A new population was sent out from the mainland. In 1746 government troops landed looking for Bonnie Prince Charlie, only to be met with fearful incomprehension: "Who?"

They were really not up with the modern world. About 1840 they caught a witch, who had caused a storm. They tried her and a mob stoned her to death. She was in the form of a great auk, the last such bird ever recorded in Britain. In 1844 Icelanders killed the very last one.

In the late 1800s tourism caused the St Kildans to adopt a new traditional way of life of selling authentic St Kildan trinkets and handicrafts to tourists. Thirty-six people had emigrated to Australia in 1852. The final 36 inhabitants were evacuated at their own request to mainland Scotland on 30 August 1930. Some are still alive.

The islands were used as a military range for many years. St Kilda is now a National Trust of Scotland property, having been bequeathed by the Marquess of Bute in 1957. In 1986 it became Scotland's first World Heritage site.

Also an inner suburb of Melbourne, named from those who survived the emigration to Australia. It lies on Port Philip Bay just south-east of the City, and is notable for its night life. The football team St Kilda plays in red, white, and black, and is nicknamed The Saints.

Most of these facts have been taken from www.kilda.org.uk, which deserves some kind of prize for unfriendliness. I think they must have deliberately tried to make it as hard to get around as the islands themselves.