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A wave and a prayer:

The island of St Kilda, some 40 miles west of Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides, is the remotest part of the British Isles.

Its inhabitants lived extraordinarily frugal lives under conditions many would find unbearable. Until the early twentieth century, the St Kildans rented their land from a landlord from the Isle of Skye, and paid him once yearly in kind.

The physical, social, and political isolation of the St Kildans is hard to imagine by contemporary standards, although the island is not very far away, and sustained a healthy community not very long ago (the last islanders left in the 1930s).

This picture shows a St Kilda Mail Carrier. A letter would have been sealed in a tin and put in a wooden box attached to a sheep’s bladder. The bladder acted as a float. ┬áThe box and float were hurled into the sea on a suitably favourable current in an attempt to reach the Isle of Lewis, where its contents could then join the regular mail. The inhabitants of St Kilda had little use for the mail, it appears; the first of these ‘mail-boats’ was not sent until a journalist found himself stranded during a famine on the island in 1876.