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TITLE
Handa Island
EXTERNAL ID
PC_PRISCUS_SCO5296
PLACENAME
Handa Island
DISTRICT
Eddrachillis and Durness
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
SUTHERLAND: Eddrachillis
PERIOD
1890s
CREATOR
George Washington Wilson
SOURCE
Mark Butterworth - Priscus
ASSET ID
29580
KEYWORDS
islands
George Washington Wilson, Queen Victoria
Norse
Scourie
cliffs
seabirds
parliament
queens
St Kilda
famine
emigration
Scottish Wildlife Trust
Special Scientific Interest
guillemots
skuas
razorbills
puffins
plants
mosse
Handa Island

This photograph shows Handa Island. It was taken by George Washington Wilson (1823 - 1893) an Aberdeen-based photographer who travelled extensively in Scotland, and abroad, taking landscape photographs with the aid of a portable darkroom. He photographed Queen Victoria and was commissioned by her to record the construction of Balmoral

Handa Island, from the Norse meaning "sandy isle", is situated north west of Scourie off the coast of Sutherland. The cliffs on the north west of the island rise perpendicularly out of the Atlantic Ocean to a height of 120 metres (400 feet), providing nesting sites for a myriad of seabirds.

In 1840 Handa was home to twelve families. The islanders grew potatoes and oats. They made a living from fishing and from the very dangerous activity of collecting eggs and sea birds, for their oil and feathers, from the precipitous cliffs. The men held a daily parliament to allocate work and the oldest widow was recognised as their Queen. A similar society existed on St Kilda. In 1848 the potato famine led to the emigration of the islanders to Canada and the island has since been uninhabited. The ruins of the houses can still be seen.

Since 1991 Handa has been managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust. Designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, it is one of the largest seabird colonies in northwest Europe. Over 180,000 sea birds come here in the summer to breed. Guillemots, razorbills and great skuas come in vast numbers as well as kittiwakes, artic skuas and puffins. Many other bird species can be seen. There are also over 200 varieties of plants, 100 types of moss and thousands of rabbits.

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Handa Island

SUTHERLAND: Eddrachillis

1890s

islands; George Washington Wilson, Queen Victoria; Norse; Scourie; cliffs; seabirds; parliament; queens; St Kilda; famine; emigration; Scottish Wildlife Trust; Special Scientific Interest; guillemots; skuas; razorbills; puffins; plants; mosse

Mark Butterworth - Priscus

Imaging the Past

This photograph shows Handa Island. It was taken by George Washington Wilson (1823 - 1893) an Aberdeen-based photographer who travelled extensively in Scotland, and abroad, taking landscape photographs with the aid of a portable darkroom. He photographed Queen Victoria and was commissioned by her to record the construction of Balmoral<br /> <br /> Handa Island, from the Norse meaning "sandy isle", is situated north west of Scourie off the coast of Sutherland. The cliffs on the north west of the island rise perpendicularly out of the Atlantic Ocean to a height of 120 metres (400 feet), providing nesting sites for a myriad of seabirds.<br /> <br /> In 1840 Handa was home to twelve families. The islanders grew potatoes and oats. They made a living from fishing and from the very dangerous activity of collecting eggs and sea birds, for their oil and feathers, from the precipitous cliffs. The men held a daily parliament to allocate work and the oldest widow was recognised as their Queen. A similar society existed on St Kilda. In 1848 the potato famine led to the emigration of the islanders to Canada and the island has since been uninhabited. The ruins of the houses can still be seen.<br /> <br /> Since 1991 Handa has been managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust. Designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, it is one of the largest seabird colonies in northwest Europe. Over 180,000 sea birds come here in the summer to breed. Guillemots, razorbills and great skuas come in vast numbers as well as kittiwakes, artic skuas and puffins. Many other bird species can be seen. There are also over 200 varieties of plants, 100 types of moss and thousands of rabbits.