Mingulay: An Island and its People

Mingulay: An Island and its People

by Ben Buxton

Paperback(Second edition)

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A remote, barren and ruggedly beautiful island lies at the southern end of the Outer Hebrides. Its people, loyal for centuries, have abandoned it but the beauty and history of Mingulay remain. The story of St Kilda, whose inhabitants were also forced to leave, is well known, but that of Mingulay is no less poignant, and is told in this acclaimed book for the first time. Ben Buxton documents the story of a people and of an island. In the nineteenth century Mingulay was home to up to 160 islanders who lived by crofting, fishing and by catching seabirds from cliffs which are among the highest in Britain. Looking back through the annals of history, he uncovers the traditions of a hospitable, close community which thrived under clan rule. But set in lonely isolation in the stormy Atlantic, with no proper landing place, absentee landlords and insufficient fertile land, life for Mingulay's inhabitants was hard, and By 1912, the 'voluntary' evacuation of the island was complete.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781780273044
Publisher: Birlinn, Limited
Publication date: 03/01/2017
Edition description: Second edition
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Ben Buxton first explored the Barra Isles in the 1970s. Later, while studying for a degree in archaeology, he investigated the archaeology and history of Mingulay. In 1995 Mingulay: An Island and its People was published by Birlinn. This was joint winner of the Michaelis-Jena Ratcliffe Prize for Folklife in 1997. Ben Buxton now lives in Dorset, where he teaches adult education classes in archaeology.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations & Maps vii

Preface to the new edition xi

Acknowledgements xiii

Preface to the 1995 edition xv

1 'The Nearer St Kilda' 1

2 Early Times 23

3 The People and their Culture 44

4 Chiefs, Landlords, Tenants 61

5 A Living from the Land 83

6 Fishing and the Sea 97

7 Catching the 'Feathered Tribes' 112

8 The Village: Walls and Work 119

9 Sickness and Death 133

10 The Ladies' School 141

11 Mingulay Public School 152

12 A 'most devout group of Catholics' 166

13 The 'Impossible Place' 176

14 The Deserted Island 194

15 Berneray 203

16 Pabbay 233

Notes and References 251

Bibliography 267


1 Population table for the southern isles and Barra 279

2 'Song to the Isle of Mingulay' 280

3 'Neil's trip to Mingulay' 283

4 Tape recording informants 286

5 Plan of Mingulay Village 287

6 Notable dates, 1549-2000 289

Index 291

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