Vatersay

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Vatersay
Gaelic nameBhatarsaigh
Pronunciation[ˈvaʰt̪əɾs̪aj] (About this soundlisten)
Meaning of nameWater island
Bagh Siar (West Bay)
Bagh Siar (West Bay)
Location
Vatersay is located in Outer Hebrides
Vatersay
Vatersay
Vatersay shown within the Outer Hebrides
OS grid referenceNL635955
Coordinates56°56′N 7°32′W / 56.93°N 7.53°W / 56.93; -7.53
Physical geography
Island groupUist and Barra
Area960 hectares (3.7 sq mi)
Area rank51 [1]
Highest elevationHeiseabhal Mòr 190 metres (623 ft)
Administration
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
CountryScotland
Council areaComhairle nan Eilean Siar
Demographics
Population90[2]
Population rank45= [1]
Population density9.4 people/km2[2][3]
Largest settlementBaile Bhatarsaigh
Lymphad3.svg
References[3][4][5]

The island of Vatersay (Scottish Gaelic: Bhatarsaigh) is the southernmost inhabited island in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, and the settlement of Caolas on the north coast of the island is the westernmost permanently inhabited place in Scotland and in Great Britain. The main village, also called Vatersay, is in the south of the island.

Geography[edit]

Vatersay is in the form of a tombolo, which is two rocky islands linked by a sandy isthmus. The isthmus is covered in sand dunes and on either side are large white-sand beaches; Bagh Siar (West Bay), and Bagh Bhatarsaigh (Vatersay Bay) to the east.

Vatersay is linked to the larger island of Barra to the north by a causeway about 200 metres long which was completed in 1991.[6] This is of huge benefit as the shipping of goods and passenger traffic no longer has to rely on a small passenger ferry boat. Access to schools and emergency services is much quicker and easier.

At low tide, the island is also linked to the islet of Uineasan to the east. To the south are the uninhabited islands of Pabbay, Mingulay and Sanday.

Wildlife[edit]

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.

Archaeology[edit]

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]

Wrecks[edit]

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]

Notes[edit]

  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]

References[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