This is the third episode of Open Book, a Podcast by National Records of Scotland dedicated to preserving Scotland’s past, recording its present and informing our future.
This week, we’re off to the lonely isle of St Kilda in the Outer Hebrides, forty miles west of Benbecula.
This craggy isle once supported a small but hardy population, who survived long periods of isolation on a diet comprised of mostly puffins and fulmars. They endured the hard climate and outbreaks of disease, as well as the occasional troublesome tourist and kidnapped aristocrat, until St Kilda was finally evacuated for good in 1930.
Dr Alison Rosie is head of the National Register of Archives of Scotland, which surveys records held in private hands and provides advice and support to custodians. In this talk, recorded at General Register House in Edinburgh’s New Town, Alison looks into the NRS archives to see what we can discover about St Kilda, its people and their history.
She also talks about her recent discovery of the earliest known census of the island’s population from the year 1764, which she found unexpectedly in a private collection.
You can find some of the images that Alison refers to in her talk below, including the 1764 census and many other documents and photographs from the island. More detailed versions of some of these images are available at the NRS website.
Alison begins her talk with a reference to the album The Lost Songs of St Kilda and you can find a sample of recordings of old St Kildan music at YouTube.
The Open Book Podcast is also available to download via iTunes and several other podcasting applications.