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Gaelic name Bhatarsaigh
Pronunciation [ˈvaʰt̪əɾs̪aj] (About this sound listen)
Meaning of name Water island
Vatersay Bay
Vatersay Bay
Vatersay is located in Outer Hebrides
Vatersay shown within the Outer Hebrides
OS grid reference NL635955
Coordinates 56°56′N 7°32′W / 56.93°N 7.53°W / 56.93; -7.53
Physical geography
Island group Uist and Barra
Area 960 hectares (3.7 sq mi)
Area rank 51 [1]
Highest elevation Heiseabhal Mòr 190 metres (623 ft)
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Country Scotland
Council area Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
Population 90[2]
Population rank 45= [1]
Population density 9.4 people/km2[2][3]
Largest settlement Baile Bhatarsaigh
References [3][4][5]

Vatersay (Scottish Gaelic: Bhatarsaigh) is the southernmost inhabited island in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. Vatersay is also the name of the only village on the island.


Vatersay is also the westernmost permanently inhabited place in Scotland and in Great Britain. It is linked to the larger island of Barra by a causeway about 200 metres long and completed in 1991.[6] At low tide, the island is also linked to the islet of Uineasan to the east.


Wildlife on the island includes otters, seals and herons. Bonnie Prince Charlie's flower (Calystegia soldanella), reputedly originating from French seeds dropped by Bonnie Prince Charlie is, in Scotland, found only on Vatersay and Eriskay.


The island has remains of an Iron Age broch at Dun a' Chaolais overlooking the Sound of Vatersay, and nearby is a passage grave dated to the 3rd millennium BC.[7] There is also a Bronze Age cemetery at Trèseabhaig south of the heights of Heiseabhal Mòr[8] and a cairn built around 1000 BC west of the village of Vatersay.[9] The offshore islet of Bioruaslum has a walled fort that may be of Neolithic provenance.[10]


Monument to the wreck of the Annie Jane, overlooking the West Bay

One of the saddest events to befall the island was when the Annie Jane, a three-masted migrant ship out of Liverpool bound for Montreal, Quebec, Canada, struck rocks off West Beach during a storm in September 1853. Within ten minutes the ship began to founder and break up, casting 450 people into the raging sea. In spite of the conditions, islanders tried to rescue the passengers and crew.[11]

There were only a few survivors. A small cairn and monument marks the site where the bodies recovered from the sea were buried. An inscription reads:

On 28th September 1853 the ship Annie Jane with emigrants from Liverpool to Quebec was totally wrecked in this bay and threefourths of the crew and passengers numbering about 350 men women and children were drowned and their bodies interred here.

Two Chinese seamen from the SS Idomeneus, which sank on 28 September 1917, are also buried somewhere near the monument. There is a commemorative headstone in Cuier Churchyard.[12]

The remains of a Catalina flying boat that crashed on the slopes of Heiseabhal Beag in 1944 lie in a stream bed near the shore.[13]


  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 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 Haswell-Smith, Hamish (2004). The Scottish Islands. Edinburgh: Canongate. ISBN 978-1-84195-454-7.
  4. ^ Ordnance Survey. OS Maps Online (Map). 1:25,000. Leisure.
  5. ^ Mac an Tàilleir, Iain (2003) Ainmean-àite/Placenames. (pdf) Pàrlamaid na h-Alba. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  6. ^ "Undiscovered Vatersay". Isle of Barra. Archived from the original on 23 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-06.
  7. ^ Branigan (2007) p. 65
  8. ^ Branigan (2007) p. 66
  9. ^ Branigan (2007) p. 68
  10. ^ Branigan (2007) p. 67
  11. ^ "Annie Jane Memorial - the story". Isle of Vatersay. Archived from the original on 21 November 2008. Retrieved 6 November 2008.
  12. ^ CWGC Dept of Honour
  13. ^ "Consolidated Catalina: Vatersay, Heishival Beg". Canmore. Retrieved 13 Nov 2011.

See also[edit]


  • Branigan, Keith (2007) Ancient Barra: exploring the Archaeology of the Outer Hebrides. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 56°55′41″N 7°32′01″W / 56.92805°N 7.53357°W / 56.92805; -7.53357