St Kilda Archaeology Coast


St Kilda Archaeology

Neil Oliver visits the remote island of St Kilda to find out about conservation efforts on the largely uninhabited island.


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40 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean

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lies a group of islands which have an almost mythical status.

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St Kilda.

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It's a place of superlatives.

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The biggest sea cliffs in Britain,

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the largest sea bird colonies

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and the remotest village street.

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Regular lines of stone walls and houses are still standing,

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but the last native St Kildans left in 1930.

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Increasing contact with the industrialised world

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had destroyed their traditional way of life.

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Today the houses are empty, except in the summer months,

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when they are home to a band of conservationists,

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dedicated to preserving the past.

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I love the island, I love the isolation, I love its location.

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The pure beauty of the place.

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I'm Samantha Dennis.

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I'm here as the archaeologist for the National Trust of Scotland.

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My job here really is to look after

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all the cultural material on St Kilda.

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I go around checking on the buildings,

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also rebuild some of the walls when they're falling down.

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Basically, just keep the standing structures, the buildings.

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One of the best things about being on St Kilda

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is the number of people you meet, the variety of people

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and the skills that you learn from people passing through.

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Everything from handling puffins to reslating rooves

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to fixing a blocked drain.

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You kind of feel a feeling of you belong somewhere.

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You've done something for someone else.

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SEA BIRDS CALL

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The islands of the Outer Hebrides

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are bursting with archaeology and ancient monuments.

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But the most enigmatic of them all

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are the magnificent standing stones at Callanish on Lewis.

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Put up around 3,000 BC by Neolithic farmers.

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You can speculate to your heart's content

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about what these stones were for,

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but the thing that gets me is just how old, old, old they are.

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It's 5,000 years old. That means before there was anything.

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Before there were cities, before there were roads,

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before there were big populations.

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Before there were pyramids in Egypt, there was this.

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Many stone circles are probably associated with the sun and stars.

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But the layout of Callanish

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is more likely linked to the movements of the moon.

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That's the theory,

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although we will never know what was in the mind of the communities

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that gathered here for generations.

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Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

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E-mail [email protected]

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