Infobox Scottish island |
celtic name=Eilean Shannda
meaning of name=sandy island
highest elevation=Sithean Mòr 123 m
Inner Hebrides/Islands of Sutherland
references= [2001 UK Census per
List of islands of Scotland] Haswell-Smith, Hamish. (2004) The Scottish Islands. Edinburgh. Canongate.] [ [http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/ Ordnance Survey] ]
Scottish Gaelic: Eilean Shannda) is an islandoff the west coast of Sutherland, Highland, Scotland. It is 309 ha and 123 m at its highest point.
Ferrysails to Handa from Tarbet on the mainland and boat trips operate to it from Fanagmore.
Geography and geology
The island is composed of Torridonian
red sandstoneand surrounded by cliffs covered with birds.
In the north is a hill with two peaks, with the south and east being lower lying. The north and west have 100m high cliffs, and there are beaches in the south and east.
Smaller islands around Handa include Glas-Leac to the south, Eilean an Aigeach to the north east and Stac an t-Sealbhaig to the north.
The Sound of Handa separates it from the mainland.
The island's name is
Anciently the island was used as a burial place, and there are still the remains of a chapel in the south east, commemorated in the name Tràigh an Teampaill (Beach of the Temple).
It had a population of 65 in 1841, but in
1848potato famine forced the inhabitants to emigrate. In some ways this is surprising, since it is recorded that the islanders had a fairly varied diet including oats, fish and seabirds, rather than depending heavily on a potato crop. The islanders had a parliament, similar to that of St Kilda, which met daily, and the oldest widow on the island was considered its "Queen".
It is now part of the Scourie Estate, owned by Dr Jean Balfour and J.C. Balfour [cite web| url=http://www.whoownsscotland.org.uk/page_cache/su/scourie_small.htm| title=Scourie Estate| publisher=Who Owns Scotland| accessdate=2007-11-11] and managed by the
Scottish Wildlife Trustwith a population of just one warden during the summer months.
The island is an
SSSI, and was leased to the RSPBoriginally for 25 years. However the Balfours did not renew the lease, because they wished a Scottish based body to run the island; as a result the Scottish Wildlife Trusttook it over. Despite being a reserve, the island receives some 5000 visitors per annum.
* [http://www.swt.org.uk/wildlife/popup_reserves/north/handa.htm Scottish Wildlife Trust - Handa Island]
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