April 23, 2013
0611 UNITED KINGDOM (Scotland) - St. Kilda (UNESCO WHS)
The archipelago of St Kilda, the remotest part of the British Isles, lies 66 km west of Benbecula in Scotland's Outer Hebrides, in the North Atlantic Ocean, and represents the remnants of a long-extinct ring volcano rising from the seabed plateau. Regarding the archipelago's name, there are several theories, but none seems to be satisfactory, especially there isn't known a saint by the name of Kilda. The largest island in the group is Hirta, which comprises more than 78% of the land area of the archipelago.
St Kilda was continuously inhabited for two millennia or more, from the Bronze Age to the 20th century. There are feral sheeps of a unique type, believed to be remnants of the earliest sheep bred in Europe in the Neolithic. The first written record about it dates from 1202, and is known that in the ensuing centuries the islands were inhabited by (as clergyman Donald Munro recorded in 1549) "simple poor people, scarce learnit in aney religion."
Macauley reported in 1764 the existence of five druidic altars on the island of Boreray, and is known also that the isolation and dependence on the bounty of the natural world meant the islanders' philosophy until the beginning of the 19-th century, linked rather from the Druidism than from the Christianity. The medieval village on Village Bay in Hirta (which has 180 inhabitants in 1697), was rebuilt in the 19th century, but in 1852 36 people emigrated to Australia, and the influences of religious zeal, illnesses brought by increased external contacts through tourism, and the WWI all contributed to the island's evacuation in 1930.
It is very interesting that since 1876 the islanders communicated with the world through mailboats, i.e. the letters were sealed in a wooden container with a sheep's bladder acting as a float and were consigned to the sea. Most of them reached shore in Scotland or Scandinavia carried by the prevailing currents. In 1955 the British government decided to incorporate St Kilda into a missile tracking range based in Benbecula. The islands are also a breeding ground for many important seabird species including Northern Gannets, Atlantic Puffins, and Northern Fulmars and host few endemic subspecies.
About the stamps
The first two stamps are part of the Machin definitive & Country stamps issued on March 29, 2011, about which I wrote here.
The third stamp belong to a series dedicated to the English novelist Jane Austen, issued on February 21, 2013 to the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice. Designed by artist Angela Barrett, the series include illustrations of scenes from the six major novels:
• Sense and Sensibility (1st Class)
• Pride and Prejudice (1st Class)
• Mansfield Park (0.77 GBP) - It's on the postcard 0838
• Emma (0.77 GBP) - It's on the postcard 0611
• Northanger Abbey (1.28 GBP)
• Persuasion (1.28 GBP)
St Kilda, Scotland - Wikipedia
St Kilda -St Kilda (The National Trust for Scotland)
St Kilda - UNESCO official website
Sender. Iain Stewart (direct swap)
Sent from Aberdeen (Scotland / United Kingdom), in 14.04.2013
Photo: Colin Baxter