Tanera Mòr

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Tanera Mòr
Gaelic name Tannara Mòr
Meaning of name "Harbour island", from Norse
Tanera Mòr is located in Ross and Cromarty
Tanera Mòr
Tanera Mòr
Tanera Mòr shown within Scotland
OS grid reference NB992067
Coordinates 58°01′N 5°25′W / 58.01°N 5.42°W / 58.01; -5.42
Physical geography
Island group Summer Isles
Area 310 hectares (1.20 sq mi)
Area rank 86 [1]
Highest elevation Meall Mòr 124 metres (407 ft)
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Country Scotland
Council area Highland
Population 4 (2013)[2] 0 (2014)[3]
Population rank 77= (2013) [1]
Population density 3.2 people/km2[2][4]
References [4][5][6]

Tanera Mòr (Scottish Gaelic: Tannara Mòr) is an uninhabited (previously inhabited)[7] island in Loch Broom in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. It is the largest of the Summer Isles and was the last inhabited island in that group. Tanera Mòr has issued its own postage stamps[3] and was the location of Frank Fraser Darling's book Island Years. In 2014 it was reported that the island's permanent residents had left and that it is for sale for £1.95 million.[3]


Looking northwards from Rubh' Ard-na-goine on Tanera Mòr. The village of Polbain can be seen on the mainland in the distance.

Tanera Mòr is around 310 hectares (766 acres) and reaches a height of 124 metres (407 feet). The highest hill is Meall Mòr (a common Scottish mountain name, meaning a "big rounded hill").

The rock is Torridonian sandstone covered with peat and pasture.

The post office and café.


The island was a port for herring fishing, and suffered the decline of that industry. The two settlements were known as Ardnagoine and Garadheancal.

In 1881, there were no fewer than 118 people living on Tanera Mòr, all of whom had left in 1931 (one year after St Kilda was abandoned). Permanent habitation has been intermittent since then, with six people identified as resident in 1961, eight in 1981, none in 1991 and then five at the 2001 census[4][8] and four in 2011.[2] Many of the old cottages have been renovated, and are now used as holiday accommodation.

In September 2012, it was revealed that the island's owners Lizzie and Richard Williams were considering a community buyout with residents on the mainland nearby.[9] The price to the Coigach development trust has been assessed at £2.6 million.[10] This proposal did not progress, however, and the island was placed on the open market in May 2013 for £2.5 million.[11] By 2014 the price had been dropped to £1.95 million by owners Richard and Lizzie Williams, who have moved to the mainland.[3]

Facilities and infrastructure[edit]

Tanera Mòr is home to a salmon fish farm, several holiday cottages, a small sailing school, a café and a post office, which has operated its own local post and printed its own stamps since 1970.[12] The island has no roads and the only recognisable path goes around An Acarsaid ("The Anchorage"), the sheltered bay on the east side of the island. Tanera Mòr, like the other Summer Isles, can be seen from the Stornoway to Ullapool ferry. The island can be reached by boat from either Achiltibuie in Wester Ross, or Ullapool.

Literary references[edit]

Tanera Mòr was the location for Frank Fraser Darling's book Island Years (published 1940), which describes experiences living on a remote island. Living in Tanera Mòr and Dundonnell before that, Fraser Darling began the work that was to mark him as a naturalist-philosopher of original turn of mind and great intellectual drive. He described the social and breeding behaviour of the red deer, gulls, and the grey seal respectively, in the three academic works A Herd of Red Deer, Bird Flocks and the Breeding Cycle and A Naturalist on Rona. The outbreak of World War II put an end to Fraser Darling's hopes of undertaking further research on the grey seal, and being too old for active military service, he chose to farm rather than leave the west coast of Scotland for wartime civilian work. Between 1939 and 1943 Fraser Darling reclaimed derelict land to agricultural production on Tanera Mòr in the Summer Isles, an undertaking described in his 1943 book Island Farm. In 1942 the wartime Secretary of State for Scotland, Tom Johnston, asked Fraser Darling if he would run an agricultural advisory programme in the crofting areas of the Scottish Highlands and Islands. He agreed, and for two years he travelled, taught and wrote articles that were later published in book form as Crofting Agriculture.

The pagan-cult island of Summerisle featured in the motion picture The Wicker Man (filmed 1973) is thought by some film critics to be set in this archipelago, although the movie itself was filmed in Galloway and Skye.

The Summer Isles feature in a novella of the same name by Ian R. MacLeod.


The island's floral diversity is strong due to the lack of grazing over the last 25 years, with northern marsh orchids and butterfly orchids particularly strong. Otters are active, common and grey seals frequently visit from the other nearby Summer Isles, and basking sharks and porpoises pass by in summer. Bird species include eider, heron, red grouse and buzzards [13]

Coordinates: 58°0′40″N 5°24′30″W / 58.01111°N 5.40833°W / 58.01111; -5.40833


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ a b c 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.
  3. ^ a b c d Kane, Jenny (20 November 2014) "Last permanent residents lave Summer Isles for the mainland". The Herald. Glasgow.
  4. ^ a b c Haswell-Smith (2004) The Scottish Islands. Edinburgh. Canongate. Pages 195-7.
  5. ^ Ordnance Survey. Get-a-map (Map). 1:25,000. Leisure. Retrieved 21 August 2013. [dead link]
  6. ^ Iain Mac an Tailleir. "Placenames" (PDF). Pàrlamaid na h-Alba. Retrieved 2007-07-23. 
  7. ^ Kane, Jenny. "Last residents leave the islands that inspired The Wicker Man". Deadline News. Retrieved 10 July 2016. 
  8. ^ General Register Office for Scotland (28 November 2003) Scotland's Census 2001 – Occasional Paper No 10: Statistics for Inhabited Islands. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
  9. ^ "Community ownership mooted for Tanera Mor in Wester Ross". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 29 September 2012. 
  10. ^ "Tanera for sale: what do you think?". (18 January 2013) Coigach Community Development Company. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
  11. ^ "Tanera Mor in Summer Isles on sale for £2.5m". BBC News. BBC. 5 May 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2013. 
  12. ^ "Summer Isles Post Office". Summer-isles.com. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
  13. ^ Overview of Tanera Mor
  • Fraser Darling, Frank (1940) Island Years. G. Bell and Sons.
  • Keay, J. & Keay, J. (1994) Collins Encyclopaedia of Scotland. London. HarperCollins. (Entry: Summer Isles)

External links[edit]