Skye, or the Isle of
Skye (/skaɪ/; Scottish Gaelic: An t-Eilean
Sgitheanach or Eilean a' Cheò), is the largest and northernmost of
the major islands in the
Inner Hebrides of Scotland.[Note 1] The
island's peninsulas radiate from a mountainous centre dominated by the
Cuillins, the rocky slopes of which provide some of the most dramatic
mountain scenery in the country. Although it has been suggested
that the Gaelic Sgitheanach describes a winged shape there is no
definitive agreement as to the name's origins.
The island has been occupied since the
Mesolithic period, and its
history includes a time of Norse rule and a long period of domination
Clan MacLeod and Clan Donald. The 18th century
Jacobite risings led
to the breaking up of the clan system and subsequent Clearances that
replaced entire communities with sheep farms, some of which also
involved forced emigrations to distant lands. Resident numbers
declined from over 20,000 in the early 19th century to just under
9,000 by the closing decade of the 20th century. Skye's population
increased by 4 per cent between 1991 and 2001. About a third of
the residents were Gaelic speakers in 2001, and although their numbers
are in decline, this aspect of island culture remains important.
The main industries are tourism, agriculture, fishing and forestry.
Skye is part of the
Highland Council local government area. The
island's largest settlement is Portree, known for its picturesque
harbour. There are links to various nearby islands by ferry and,
since 1995, to the mainland by a road bridge. The climate is mild, wet
and windy. The abundant wildlife includes the golden eagle, red deer
and Atlantic salmon. The local flora are dominated by heather moor,
and there are nationally important invertebrate populations on the
surrounding sea bed.
Skye has provided the locations for various
novels and feature films and is celebrated in poetry and song.
2.1 Towns and villages
3.2 Early history
3.3 Clans and Scottish rule
3.5 Overview of population trends
4 Government and politics
7 Culture, media and the arts
9 See also
13 External links
Main article: Etymology of Skye
The first written references to the island are Roman sources such as
the Ravenna Cosmography, which refers to Scitis and Scetis, which
can be found on a map by Ptolemy. One possible derivation comes
from skitis, an early Celtic word for winged, which may describe how
the island's peninsulas radiate out from a mountainous centre.
Subsequent Gaelic-, Norse- and English-speaking peoples have
influenced the history of Skye; the relationships between their names
for the island are not straightforward. Various etymologies have been
proposed, such as the "winged isle" or "the notched isle" but no
definitive solution has been found to date and the placename may be
from an earlier, non-Gaelic language.
In the Norse sagas
Skye is called Skíð, for example in the Hákonar
saga Hákonarsonar and a skaldic poem in the
Heimskringla from c.
1230 contains a line that translates as "the hunger battle-birds were
Skye with blood of foemen killed". The island was also
referred to by the Norse as Skuy (misty isle), Skýey or Skuyö
(isle of cloud). The traditional Gaelic name is An t-Eilean
Sgitheanach (the island of Skye), An t-Eilean Sgiathanach being a more
recent and less common spelling. In 1549 Donald Munro, High Dean of
the Isles, wrote of "Sky": "This Ile is callit Ellan Skiannach in
Irish, that is to say in Inglish the wyngit Ile, be reason it has mony
wyngis and pointis lyand furth fra it, throw the dividing of thir
foirsaid Lochis."[Note 2] but the meaning of this Gaelic name is
Eilean a' Cheò, which means island of the mist (a translation of the
Norse name), is a poetic Gaelic name for the island.[Note 3]
Further information: Geology of Skye
Skye and the surrounding islands
Bla Bheinn from Loch Slapin
Waterfall on the River Rha between
Staffin and Uig
At 1,656 square kilometres (639 sq mi),
Skye is the
second-largest island in
Scotland after Lewis and Harris. The
Skye is a series of peninsulas and bays radiating out
from a centre dominated by the
Cuillin hills (Gaelic: An Cuiltheann).
Malcolm Slesser suggested that its shape "sticks out of the west coast
Scotland like a lobster's claw ready to snap at the fish
bone of Harris and Lewis" and W. H. Murray, commenting on its
irregular coastline, stated that "
Skye is sixty miles [100 km]
long, but what might be its breadth is beyond the ingenuity of man to
state".[Note 4] Martin Martin, a native of the island, reported on
it at length in a 1703 publication. His geological observations
included a note that:
There are marcasites black and white, resembling silver ore, near the
village Sartle: there are likewise in the same place several stones,
which in bigness, shape, &c., resemble nutmegs, and many rivulets
here afford variegated stones of all colours. The Applesglen near
Loch-Fallart has agate growing in it of different sizes and colours;
some are green on the outside, some are of a pale sky colour, and they
all strike fire as well as flint: I have one of them by me, which for
shape and bigness is proper for a sword handle. Stones of a purple
colour flow down the rivulets here after great rains.
— Martin Martin, A Description of The Western Islands of
The vertical west face of the Bastier Tooth (a top next to Am Basteir)
in the Cuillin, with
Sgùrr nan Gillean
Sgùrr nan Gillean in the background
The Black Cuillin, which are mainly composed of basalt and gabbro,
include twelve Munros and provide some of the most dramatic and
challenging mountain terrain in Scotland. The ascent of Sgùrr a'
Ghreadaidh is one of the longest rock climbs in Britain and the
Inaccessible Pinnacle is the only peak in
Scotland that requires
technical climbing skills to reach the summit. These hills
make demands of the hill walker that exceed any others found in
Scotland and a full traverse of the
Cuillin ridge may take 15–20
hours. The Red Hills (Gaelic: Am Binnean Dearg) to the south are
also known as the Red Cuillin. They are mainly composed of granite
that has weathered into more rounded hills with many long scree slopes
on their flanks. The highest point of these hills is Glamaig, one of
only two Corbetts on Skye.
The northern peninsula of
Trotternish is underlain by basalt, which
provides relatively rich soils and a variety of unusual rock features.
The Kilt Rock is named after the tartan-like patterns in the 105
metres (344 ft) cliffs. The
Quiraing is a spectacular series of
rock pinnacles on the eastern side of the main spine of the peninsula
and further south is the rock pillar of the Old Man of Storr.
Loch Snizort to the west of
Trotternish is the Waternish
peninsula, which ends in Ardmore Point's double rock arch. Duirinish
is separated from
Waternish by Loch Dunvegan, which contains the
island of Isay. The loch is ringed by sea cliffs that reach
295 metres (967 ft) at Waterstein Head. Oolitic loam
provides good arable land in the main valley. Lochs
Harport and the island of Wiay lie between Duirinish and Minginish,
which includes the narrower defiles of
Glen Brittle and
whose beaches are formed from black basaltic sands.
a relatively small peninsula close to the
Cuillin hills with only a
few crofting communities, the island of Soay lies offshore. The
Sleat in the south is
Torridonian sandstone, which produces
poor soils and boggy ground, although its lower elevations and
relatively sheltered eastern shores enable a lush growth of hedgerows
and crops. The islands of Raasay, Rona, Scalpay and
Pabay all lie
to the north and east between
Skye and the mainland.
Towns and villages
Small Isles Parish
Portree, Skye's largest settlement
Portree in the north at the base of
Trotternish is the largest
settlement (estimated population 2,264 in 2011) and is the main
service centre on the island. Broadford, the location of the island's
only airstrip, is on the east side of the island and
Dunvegan in the
north-west is well known for its castle and the nearby Three Chimneys
restaurant. The 18th-century Stein Inn on the
Waternish coast is the
oldest pub on Skye.
Kyleakin is linked to
Kyle of Lochalsh
Kyle of Lochalsh on the
mainland by the
Skye Bridge, which spans the narrows of Loch Alsh.
Uig, the port for ferries to the Outer Hebrides, is on the west of the
Trotternish peninsula and
Edinbane is between
Portree. Much of the rest of the population lives in crofting
townships scattered around the coastline.
The influence of the
Atlantic Ocean and the
Gulf Stream create a mild
oceanic climate. Temperatures are generally cool, averaging
6.5 °C (43.7 °F) in January and 15.4 °C
(59.7 °F) in July at
Duntulm in Trotternish.[Note 5] Snow
seldom lies at sea level and frosts are less frequent than on the
mainland. Winds are a limiting factor for vegetation. South-westerlies
are the most common and speeds of 128 km/h (80 mph) have
been recorded. High winds are especially likely on the exposed coasts
Trotternish and Waternish. In common with most islands of the
west coast of Scotland, rainfall is generally high at
1,500–2,000 mm (59–79 in) per annum and the elevated
Cuillin are wetter still. Variations can be considerable, with the
north tending to be drier than the south. Broadford, for example,
averages more than 2,870 mm (113 in) of rain per annum.
Trotternish typically has 200 hours of bright sunshine in May, the
sunniest month. On 28 December 2015, the temperature reached
15 °C, beating the previous December record of 12.9 °C,
set in 2013. On 9 May 2016, a temperature of 26.7 °C
(80.1 °F) was recorded at Lusa in the south-east of the
Climate data for Duntulm, Skye
Record high °C (°F)
Average high °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Record low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Source #1: Cooper (1983)
Source #2: Met office for May and December record high, bing
Mesolithic hunter-gatherer site dating to the 7th millennium BC at
An Corran in
Staffin is one of the oldest archaeological sites in
Scotland. Its occupation is probably linked to that of the rock
shelter at Sand, Applecross, on the mainland coast of Wester Ross
where tools made of a mudstone from An Corran have been found. Surveys
of the area between the two shores of the Inner Sound and Sound of
Raasay have revealed 33 sites with potentially Mesolithic
deposits. Finds of bloodstone microliths on the foreshore at
Orbost on the west coast of the island near
Dunvegan also suggest
Mesolithic occupation. These tools probably originate from the nearby
island of Rùm.
Viking canal" at Rubha an Dùnain
Rubha an Dùnain, an uninhabited peninsula to the south of the
Cuillin, has a variety of archaeological sites dating from the
Neolithic onwards. There is a 2nd or 3rd millennium BC chambered
Iron Age promontory fort and the remains of another
prehistoric settlement dating from the
Bronze Age nearby. Loch na
h-Airde on the peninsula is linked to the sea by an artificial
"Viking" canal that may date from the later period of Norse
Dun Ringill is a ruined
Iron Age hill fort on the
Strathaird peninsula, which was further fortified in the Middle Ages
and may have become the seat of Clan MacKinnon.
Iron Age inhabitants of the northern and western Hebrides
were probably Pictish, although the historical record is sparse.
Pictish symbol stones
Pictish symbol stones have been found on
Skye and a fourth on
Raasay. More is known of the kingdom of
Dál Riata to the south;
Adomnán's life of Columba, written shortly before 697, portrays the
Skye (where he baptised a pagan leader using an
Adomnán himself is thought to have been familiar
with the island. The
Irish annals record a number of events on
Skye in the later 7th and early 8th centuries – mainly concerning
the struggles between rival dynasties that formed the background to
Old Irish language romance Scéla Cano meic Gartnáin.
The Norse held sway throughout the
Hebrides from the 9th century until
Treaty of Perth in 1266. However, apart from placenames,
little remains of their presence on
Skye in the written or
archaeological record. Apart from the name "Skye" itself, all
pre-Norse placenames seem to have been obliterated by the Scandinavian
Viking heritage is claimed by
Clan MacLeod and Norse
tradition is celebrated in the winter fire festival at Dunvegan,
during which a replica
Viking long boat is set alight.
Clans and Scottish rule
The most powerful clans on
Skye in the post–Norse period were Clan
MacLeod, originally based in Trotternish, and Clan Macdonald of Sleat.
Following the disintegration of the Lordship of the Isles, the
Mackinnons also emerged as an independent clan, whose substantial
Skye were centred on Strathaird. Clan MacNeacail
also have a long association with Trotternish, and in the 16th
century many of the
MacInnes clan moved to Sleat. The MacDonalds
South Uist were bitter rivals of the MacLeods, and an attempt by
the former to murder church-goers at
Trumpan in retaliation for a
previous massacre on Eigg, resulted in the Battle of the Spoiling Dyke
Skye as shown on Blaeu's 1654 Atlas of Scotland
After the failure of the Jacobite rebellion of 1745, Flora MacDonald
became famous for rescuing Prince
Charles Edward Stuart
Charles Edward Stuart from the
Hanoverian troops. Although she was born on
South Uist her story is
strongly associated with their escape via
Skye and she is buried at
Kilmuir in Trotternish.
Samuel Johnson and James Boswell's visit
Skye in 1773 and their meeting with
Flora MacDonald in Kilmuir is
recorded in Boswell's The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides. Boswell
wrote, "To see Dr Samuel Johnson, the great champion of the English
Tories, salute Miss
Flora MacDonald in the isle of Sky, [sic] was a
striking sight; for though somewhat congenial in their notions, it was
very improbable they should meet here". Johnson's words that Flora
MacDonald was "A name that will be mentioned in history, and if
courage and fidelity be virtues, mentioned with honour" are written on
her gravestone. After this rebellion the clan system was broken up
Skye became a series of landed estates.
Of the island in general, Johnson observed:
Dunvegan Castle, looking towards MacLeod's Tables
I never was in any house of the islands, where I did not find books in
more languages than one, if I staid long enough to want them, except
one from which the family was removed. Literature is not neglected by
the higher rank of the Hebrideans. It need not, I suppose, be
mentioned, that in countries so little frequented as the islands,
there are no houses where travellers are entertained for money. He
that wanders about these wilds, either procures recommendations to
those whose habitations lie near his way, or, when night and weariness
come upon him, takes the chance of general hospitality. If he finds
only a cottage he can expect little more than shelter; for the
cottagers have little more for themselves but if his good fortune
brings him to the residence of a gentleman, he will be glad of a storm
to prolong his stay. There is, however, one inn by the sea-side at
Sconsor, in Sky, where the post-office is kept.
— Samuel Johnson, A Journey to the Western Islands of
Skye has a rich heritage of ancient monuments from this period.
Dunvegan Castle has been the seat of
Clan MacLeod since the 13th
century. It contains the
Fairy Flag and is reputed to have been
inhabited by a single family for longer than any other house in
Scotland. The 18th-century Armadale Castle, once home of Clan
Donald of Sleat, was abandoned as a residence in 1925 but now hosts
Clan Donald Centre. Nearby are the ruins of two more MacDonald
strongholds, Knock Castle, and
Dunscaith Castle (called "Fortress of
Shadows"), the legendary home of warrior woman, martial arts
instructor (and, according to some sources, Queen) Scáthach.
Caisteal Maol, built in the late 15th century near
Kyleakin and once a
seat of Clan MacKinnon, is another ruin.
Ruins in the cleared landscape of Tusdale, once so populous it was
nicknamed "the capital of Skye"
In the late 18th century the harvesting of kelp became a significant
activity but from 1822 on cheap imports led to a collapse of this
industry throughout the Hebrides. During the 19th century, the
Skye were also devastated by famine and Clearances.
Thirty thousand people were evicted between 1840 and 1880 alone, many
of them forced to emigrate to the New World. For example, the
settlement of Lorgill on the west coast of Duirinish was cleared on 4
August 1830. Every crofter under the age of seventy was removed and
placed on board the Midlothian on threat of imprisonment, with those
over that age being sent to the poorhouse. The "Battle of the
Braes" involved a demonstration against a lack of access to land and
the serving of eviction notices. The incident involved numerous
crofters and about 50 police officers. This event was instrumental in
the creation of the Napier Commission, which reported in 1884 on the
situation in the Highlands. Disturbances continued until the passing
of the 1886 Crofters' Act and on one occasion 400 marines were
Skye to maintain order. The ruins of cleared villages
can still be seen at Lorgill,
Boreraig and Suisnish in Strath
Swordale, and Tusdale on Minginish.
Overview of population trends
As with many Scottish islands, Skye's population peaked in the 19th
century and then declined under the impact of the Clearances and the
military losses in the First World War. From the 19th century until
Skye was part of the county of
Inverness-shire but the crofting
economy languished and according to Slesser, "Generations of UK
governments have treated the island people contemptuously." a
charge that has been levelled at both Labour and Conservative
administrations' policies in the Highlands and Islands.[Note 6] By
1971 the population was less than a third of its peak recorded figure
in 1841. However, the number of residents then grew by over 28 per
cent in the thirty years to 2001.
The changing relationship between the residents and the land is
evidenced by Robert Carruthers's remark circa 1852 that, "There is now
a village in
Portree containing three hundred inhabitants." Even if
this estimate is inexact the population of the island's largest
settlement has probably increased sixfold or more since then.
During the period the total number of island residents has declined by
50 per cent or more.[Note 7]
The island-wide population increase of 4 per cent between 1991 and
2001 occurred against the background of an overall reduction in
Scottish island populations of 3 per cent for the same period. By
2011 the population had risen a further 8.4% to 10,008 with
Scottish island populations as a whole growing by 4% to 103,702.
An t-Eilean Sgitheanach
[əɲ tʰʲelan s̪kʲiə.anəx] ( listen)
Am Binnean Dearg
[əm ˈpiɲan ˈtʲɛɾak] ( listen)
[əŋ ˈkʰɔrˠan] ( listen)
An Cuan Sgìth
[ən̪ˠ ˈkʰuən s̪kʲiː] ( listen)
An Tìr, an Cànan 's na Daoine
[ən̪ˠ ˈtʲʰiːɾʲ əŋ ˈkʰanan s̪nə
ˈtɯːɲə] ( listen)
Eilean a' Cheò
[ˈelan ə ˈçɔː] ( listen)
Loch na h-Àirde
[ˈlˠ̪ɔx nə ˈhaːrˠtʲə] ( listen)
Mac na Mara
[ˈmaxk nə ˈmaɾə] ( listen)
[ˈpʰɔhtʲ ˈɣu] ( listen)
Pràban na Linne
[ˈpʰɾaːpan nə ˈʎiɲə] ( listen)
Tè Bheag nan Eilean
[tʰʲeˈvek nə ˈɲelan] ( listen)
[ˈs̪kʲiəhən] ( listen)
[ˈs̪kʲi.ənəx] ( listen)
Skye was overwhelmingly Gaelic-speaking, but this
changed between 1921 and 2001. In both the 1901 and 1921 censuses, all
Skye parishes were more than 75 per cent Gaelic-speaking. By 1971,
only Kilmuir parish had more than three quarters Gaelic speakers while
the rest of
Skye ranged between 50 and 74 per cent. At that time,
Kilmuir was the only area outside the Western Isles that had such a
high proportion of Gaelic speakers. In the 2001 census Kilmuir had
just under half Gaelic speakers, and overall,
Skye had 31 per cent,
distributed unevenly. The strongest Gaelic areas were in the north and
south-west of the island, including
Staffin at 61 per cent. The
weakest areas were in the west and east (e.g. Luib 23 per cent and
Kylerhea 19 per cent). Other areas on
Skye ranged between 48 per cent
and 25 per cent.
Government and politics
Charles Kennedy, Skye's MP from 1983 to 2015
In terms of local government, from 1975 to 1996, Skye, along with the
neighbouring mainland area of Lochalsh, constituted a local government
district within the Highland administrative area. In 1996 the district
was included into the unitary Highland Council, (Comhairle na
Gàidhealtachd) based in
Inverness and formed one of the new council's
area committees. Following the 2007 elections,
Skye now forms
a four-member ward called Eilean a' Cheò; it is currently represented
by two independents, one Scottish National Party, and one Liberal
Skye is in the
Highlands and Islands
Highlands and Islands electoral region and comprises a
part of the Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch constituency of the Scottish
Parliament, which elects one member under the first past the post
basis to represent it.
Kate Forbes is the current MP for the SNP.
Skye forms part of the wider Ross,
Skye and Lochaber
constituency, which elects one member to the House of Commons in
Westminster. The present
Member of Parliament is
Ian Blackford of the
Scottish National Party, who took office after the SNP's sweep in the
General Election of 2015. Prior to this, Charles Kennedy, a Liberal
Democrat, had represented the area since the 1983 general
Caisteal Maol and fishing boats in
The largest employer on the island and its environs is the public
sector, which accounts for about a third of the total workforce,
principally in administration, education and health. The second
largest employer in the area is the distribution, hotels and
restaurants sector, highlighting the importance of tourism. Key
Dunvegan Castle, the
Clan Donald Visitor Centre,
and The Aros Experience arts and exhibition centre in Portree.
There are about a dozen large landowners on Skye, the largest being
the public sector, with the
Scottish Government owning most of the
northern part of the island. Glendale is a community-owned
estate in Duirinish and the
Sleat Community Trust, the local
development trust, is active in various regeneration
Small firms dominate employment in the private sector. The Talisker
Distillery, which produces a single malt whisky, is beside Loch
Harport on the west coast of the island. Three other whiskies—Mac na
Mara ("son of the sea"), Tè Bheag nan Eilean ("wee dram of the
isles") and Poit Dhubh ("black pot")—are produced by blender Pràban
na Linne ("smugglers den by the Sound of Sleat"), based at Eilean
Iarmain. These are marketed using predominantly
Gaelic-language labels. The blended whisky branded as "Isle of Skye"
is produced not on the island but by the
Glengoyne Distillery at
Killearn north of Glasgow, though the website of the owners, Ian
Macleod Distillers Ltd., boasts a "high proportion of Island malts"
and contains advertisements for tourist businesses in the island.
There is also an established software presence on Skye, with
Sitekit having expanded in recent years.
Some of the places important to the economy of Skye
Crofting is still important, but although there are about 2,000 crofts
Skye only 100 or so are large enough to enable a crofter to earn a
livelihood entirely from the land.
Cod and herring stocks have
declined but commercial fishing remains important, especially fish
farming of salmon and shellfish such as scampi. The west coast of
Scotland has a considerable renewable energy potential and the Isle of
Skye Renewables Co-op has recently bought a stake in the Ben Aketil
wind farm near Dunvegan. There is a thriving arts and crafts
The unemployment rate in the area tends to be higher than in the
Highlands as a whole, and is seasonal in nature, in part due to the
impact of tourism. The population is growing and in common with many
other scenic rural areas in Scotland, significant increases are
expected in the percentage of the population aged 45 to 64 years.
Skye is linked to the mainland by the
Skye Bridge, while ferries sail
from Armadale on the island to Mallaig, and from
Kylerhea to Glenelg.
Ferries also run from Uig to Tarbert on Harris and
Lochmaddy on North
Uist, and from
Sconser to Raasay.
Skye Bridge, linking
Kyle of Lochalsh
Kyle of Lochalsh to Skye
Skye Bridge opened in 1995 under a private finance initiative and
the high tolls charged (£5.70 each way for summer visitors) met with
widespread opposition, spearheaded by the pressure group SKAT (Skye
and Kyle Against Tolls). On 21 December 2004 it was announced that the
Scottish Executive had purchased the bridge from its owners and the
tolls were immediately removed.
Bus services run to
Inverness and Glasgow, and there are local
services on the island, mainly starting from
Portree or Broadford.
Train services run from
Kyle of Lochalsh
Kyle of Lochalsh at the mainland end of the
Skye Bridge to Inverness, as well as from
where the ferry can be caught to Armadale.
The Isle of
Skye Airfield at Ashaig, near Broadford, is used by
private aircraft and occasionally by
NHS Highland and the Scottish
Ambulance Service for transferring patients to hospitals on the
The A87 trunk road traverses the island from the
Skye Bridge to Uig,
linking most of the major settlements. Many of the island's roads have
been widened in the past forty years although there are still
substantial sections of single track road.
Culture, media and the arts
The new college buildings, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig
Scottish Gaelic travel from all over the world to attend
Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the
Scottish Gaelic college based near Kilmore in
Sleat. In addition to members of the Church of
Scotland and a
smaller number of Roman Catholics many residents of
Skye belong to the
Free Church of Scotland, known for its strict observance of the
Skye has a strong folk music tradition, although in recent years dance
and rock music have been growing in popularity on the island. Gaelic
folk rock band
Runrig started in
Skye and former singer Donnie Munro
still works on the island. Runrig's second single and a concert
staple is entitled Skye, the lyrics being partly in English and partly
in Gaelic and they have released other songs such as "Nightfall
on Marsco" that were inspired by the island. Celtic fusion band
Peatbog Faeries are based on Skye. Jethro Tull singer Ian
Anderson owned an estate at
Skye at one time.
Several Tull songs are written about Skye, including Dun Ringil,
Broadford Bazaar, and Acres Wild (which contains the lines "Come with
me to the Winged Isle, / Northern father's western child..." in
reference to the island itself). The Isle of
Skye Music Festival
featured sets from The
Fun Lovin' Criminals
Fun Lovin' Criminals and Sparks, but collapsed
in 2007. Electronic musician
Mylo was born on Skye.
Loch Coruisk, Isle of
Skye painted in 1874 by Sidney Richard Percy
The poet Sorley MacLean, a native of the Isle of Raasay, which lies
off the island's east coast, lived much of his life on Skye. The
island has been immortalised in the traditional song "The
Song" and is the notional setting for the novel
To the Lighthouse
To the Lighthouse by
Virginia Woolf, although the
Skye of the novel bears little relation
to the real island. John Buchan's descriptions of Skye, as
featured in his
Richard Hannay novel Mr Standfast, are more true to
life. I Diari di Rubha Hunis is a 2004 Italian language work of
non-fiction by Davide Sapienza. The international bestseller, The Ice
Twins, by S K Tremayne, published around the world in 2015–2016, is
set in southern Skye, especially around the settlement and islands of
Rock pinnacles of The Storr, which feature in some of the opening
scenes in the film Prometheus
Skye has been used as a location for a number of feature films. The
Ashaig aerodrome was used for the opening scenes of the 1980 film
Flash Gordon. Stardust, released in 2007 and starring Robert De
Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer, featured scenes near Uig,
Loch Coruisk and
the Quiraing. Another 2007 film, Seachd: The
Inaccessible Pinnacle, was shot almost entirely in various locations
on the island. Some of the opening scenes in Ridley Scott's 2012
feature film Prometheus were shot and set at the Old Man of
Storr. In 1973 The
Highlands and Islands
Highlands and Islands - a Royal Tour, a
documentary about Prince Charles's visit to the Highlands and Islands,
directed by Oscar Marzaroli, was shot partly on Skye.
West Highland Free Press
West Highland Free Press is published at Broadford. This weekly
newspaper takes as its motto An Tìr, an Cànan 's na Daoine ("The
Land, the Language and the People"), which reflects its radical,
campaigning priorities. The Free Press was founded in 1972 and
circulates in Skye, Wester Ross and the Outer Hebrides.
a popular sport played throughout the island and Portree-based Skye
Camanachd won the
Camanachd Cup in 1990.
Hebrides generally lack the biodiversity of mainland Britain,
but like most of the larger islands,
Skye still has a wide variety of
species. Observing the abundance of game birds Martin wrote:
There is plenty of land and water fowl in this isle—as hawks, eagles
of two kinds (the one grey and of a larger size, the other much less
and black, but more destructive to young cattle), black cock,
heath-hen, plovers, pigeons, wild geese, ptarmigan, and cranes. Of
this latter sort I have seen sixty on the shore in a flock together.
The sea fowls are malls of all kinds—coulterneb, guillemot, sea
cormorant, &c. The natives observe that the latter, if perfectly
black, makes no good broth, nor is its flesh worth eating; but that a
cormorant, which hath any white feathers or down, makes good broth,
and the flesh of it is good food; and the broth is usually drunk by
nurses to increase their milk.
— Martin Martin, A Description of The Western Islands of
Samuel Johnson noted that:
At the tables where a stranger is received, neither plenty nor
delicacy is wanting. A tract of land so thinly inhabited, must have
much wild-fowl; and I scarcely remember to have seen a dinner without
them. The moor-game is every where to be had. That the sea abounds
with fish, needs not be told, for it supplies a great part of Europe.
The Isle of Sky has stags and roebucks, but no hares. They sell very
numerous droves of oxen yearly to England, and therefore cannot be
supposed to want beef at home. Sheep and goats are in great numbers,
and they have the common domestic fowls."
— Samuel Johnson, A Journey to the Western Islands of
The black guillemot or tystie (Cepphus grylle)
In the modern era avian life includes the corncrake, red-throated
diver, kittiwake, tystie, Atlantic puffin, goldeneye and golden eagle.
The eggs of the last breeding pair of white-tailed sea eagle in the UK
were taken by an egg collector on
Skye in 1916 but the species has
recently been re-introduced. The chough last bred on the island
Mountain hare (apparently absent in the 18th
century) and rabbit are now abundant and preyed upon by wild cat and
pine marten. The rich fresh water streams contain brown trout,
Atlantic salmon and water shrew. Offshore the edible crab
and edible oyster are also found, the latter especially in the Sound
of Scalpay. There are nationally important horse mussel and
brittlestar beds in the sea lochs and in 2012 a bed of 100
million flame shells was found during a survey of Loch Alsh. Grey
Seals can be seen off the Southern coast.
Heather moor containing ling, bell heather, cross-leaved heath, bog
myrtle and fescues is everywhere abundant. The high Black Cuillins
weather too slowly to produce a soil that sustains a rich plant life,
but each of the main peninsulas has an individual flora. The basalt
Trotternish produce a diversity of Arctic and alpine
plants including alpine pearlwort and mossy cyphal. The low-lying
Waternish contain corn marigold and corn spurry. The sea
cliffs of Duirinish boast mountain avens and fir clubmoss. Minginish
produces fairy flax, cats-ear and black bog rush. There is a fine
example of Brachypodium-rich ash woodland at Tokavaig in Sleat
incorporating silver birch, hazel, bird cherry, and hawthorn.
The local Biodiversity Action Plan recommends land management measures
to control the spread of ragwort and bracken and identifies four
non-native, invasive species as threatening native biodiversity:
Japanese knotweed, rhododendron,
New Zealand flatworm
New Zealand flatworm and mink. It
also identifies problems of over-grazing resulting in the
impoverishment of moorland and upland habitats and a loss of native
woodland, caused by the large numbers of red deer and sheep.
Loch Fada, Trotternish, looking towards The Storr
Category:Mountains and hills of Skye
"Eilean mo chridhe" – Gaelic folk song written about
World War I
Timeline of prehistoric Scotland
^ The largest of the
Inner Hebrides that lie north of
Skye are the
Isle of Ewe, Tanera Mòr, and Handa, none of which exceed 310 hectares
(770 acres) in size. See also List of Inner Hebrides.
^ English translation from Lowland Scots: "This isle is called Ellan
Skiannach in Gaelic, that is to say in English, The Winged Isle, by
reason of its many wings and points that come from it, through
dividing of the land by the aforesaid lochs."
^ In April 2007 it was reported in the media that the island's
official name had been changed by the
Highland Council to Eilean a'
Cheò. However, the Council clarified that this name referred only to
one of its 22 wards in the forthcoming election, and that there were
no plans to change signage or discontinue the English language
^ Skye's irregular shape is created by the 15 major sea lochs that
penetrate so far into the mountainous core that no part of the island
is more than 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) from the sea.
^ Figures provided for Staffin, only a few miles to the east, average
4.6 °C (40.3 °F) in January and 15.6 °C
(60.1 °F) in July at noon.
^ The theme of government neglect has been repeated by commentators
spanning more than a century. "[The landlords] persuaded the
Government for the second time to put the country to the expense of a
naval expedition to
Skye to exhibit Highlanders to the world as a race
of men who could only be governed at the point of the bayonet, and
that simply because the Commissioners had neglected to perform and pay
for the duty the law imposed on them. (Cheers)." Sir Charles Cameron
(1886). "Nationalist MPs and crofters, frustrated by the failure
of Westminster politicians to bring
Scotland into line with England
and other European nations by abolishing feudal structures and
regulating land use, are drawing up plans to limit foreign land
ownership and introduce environmental codes for all estates. They want
ministers to compile a full public Land Register." John Arlidge
^ Carruthers was the editor of the National Illustrated Library's 1852
edition of Boswell (1785) who added a footnote to this effect.
^ The 2001 census statistics used are based on local authority areas
and do not specifically identify Free Church adherents. However, the
averages for Highland and Eilean Siar, between which the total for
Skye is likely to lie are 48–42 per cent Church of Scotland, 7–13
per cent Roman Catholic and 12–28 per cent "Other Christian", of
whom the majority will be Free Church members. The total for all other
religions combined is 1 per cent for both areas.
^ a b c d e f Murray (1966) p. 146.
^ a b c Haswell-Smith (2004) p. 173.
^ Haswell-Smith (2004) pp. 502–03. Modified to include bridged
^ a b "Get-a-map". Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 30 March 2008.
^ a b Area and population ranks: there are c. 300 islands over
20 ha in extent and 93 permanently inhabited islands were listed in
the 2011 census.
^ a b c d e National Records of
Scotland (15 August 2013) (pdf)
Statistical Bulletin: 2011 Census: First Results on Population and
Household Estimates for
Scotland - Release 1C (Part Two). "Appendix 2:
Population and households on Scotland’s inhabited islands".
Retrieved 17 August 2013.
^ Infobox reference is Haswell-Smith (2004) pp. 173–79 unless
^ "Rick Livingstone's Tables of the Islands of Scotland". (pdf) Region
8. North West, North & East coasts. Argyll Yacht Charters.
Retrieved 12 December 2011.
^ a b c d Slesser (1981) p. 19.
^ Murray (1966) pp. 147–48.
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Federation. Retrieved 29 September 2007.
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^ Murray (1966) p. 155.
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^ a b Mac an Tàilleir, Iain (2003) Ainmean-àite/Placenames. (pdf)
Pàrlamaid na h-Alba. Retrieved 26 August 2012. p. 105.
^ Gammeltoft, Peder (2007) p. 487.
^ Jennings and Kruse (2009) pp. 79–80.
^ "Haakon Haakonsøns Saga". Norwegian translation: P. A. Munch.
Saganet.is. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
^ "Magnus Barefoot's Saga". English translation: Wikisource. Retrieved
4 June 2008.
^ Munro, D. (1818). Description of the Western Isles of Scotland
called Hybrides, by Mr. Donald Munro, High Dean of the Isles, who
travelled through most of them in the year 1549. Miscellanea Scotica,
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^ Johnstone et al. (1990) pp. 234–40.
^ Murray (1966) p. 149.
^ Murray (1966) pp. 156–61.
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1916–50, temperature 1931–60.
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^ Murray (1973) p. 79.
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^ Jennings and Kruse (2009) p. 76.
^ Jennings and Kruse (2009) p. 77.
^ Sharpe (1995) Book I, chapter 26; Book II, chapter 33 & note
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Hebrides – A
Way of Understanding how the Scandinavians were in Contact with Gaels
and Picts?" in Ballin Smith, Beverley; Taylor, Simon; and Williams,
Gareth (eds) (2007). West over Sea: Studies in Scandinavian Sea-Borne
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Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Skye.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Isle of Skye.
The official website for the Isle of Skye,
Raasay in the
north west of Scotland
An historical perspective of
Skye from the Ordnance Gazetteer of
Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical
and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome. Originally published
between 1882 and 1885 and provided on-line by the Gazetteer for
Skye Birding Guide
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