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The Gravity of Feathers

Fame, Fortune and the Story of St Kilda

by Andrew Fleming


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ISBN: 9781780278810
Published: 03 Oct 2024
Format: Hardback
Extent: 368
Publisher: Birlinn Ltd
Imprint: Birlinn
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About the Book

When the last 36 inhabitants of St Kilda, 40 miles west of the Scottish Hebrides, were evacuated in 1930, the archipelago at ‘the edge of the world’ lost its permanent population after five millennia.

It has long been accepted that the islanders’ failure to adapt to the modern world was its demise. Andrew Fleming overturns the traditional view. Unafraid of highlighting dark times, he shows how they sacrificed their reputation as an uncorrupted, ideal society to embrace and exploit the tourist trade. Creating a prestigious tweed, exporting the ancestors of today’s Hebridean sheep, the islanders gained access to consumer goods and learned how to play politics to their advantage.

This book tells the absorbing and eventful story of St Kilda from up to the evacuation and its aftermath. Previously untapped sources and fresh insights bring to life the personalities, feelings, attitudes and rich culture of the islanders themselves, as well as the numerous outsiders who engaged with the remote island community.

The Author

Andrew Fleming

Andrew Fleming specialises in prehistory and landscape archaeology. He taught at Sheffield University for 27 years and then at the University of Wales Trinity St David. His previous books include The Dartmoor Reaves (Batsford, 1988), Swaledale: Valley of the Wild River (EUP, 1998) and St Kilda and the Wider World: Tales of an Iconic Island (Windgather Press, 2007).

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