Richard Burdon / Alamy

The last residents left in 1930.

Jess McHugh
August 18, 2017

In the outermost regions of the British Isles, St. Kilda has bore witness to the migration of humans and birds for at least the past 2,000 years. Abandoned nearly 100 years ago, the deserted island is still open to visitors who want to experience its remote beauty.

St. Kilda is made up of the islands of Hirta, Dun, Soay and Boreray, all formed by a volcanic eruption 52-65 million years ago off the coast of Scotland. The people who settled there or passed through survived mostly on subsistence farming despite the harsh conditions of the region's winters.

UNESCO named the island a world heritage site in 1986 for its vestiges from early human habitation, as well as its abundance of varied birds and feral animals.

Frans Lanting Studio / Alamy

The world heritage organization later extended the mandate to give UNESCO status to the sea life of the island as well.

"The plunging underwater rock faces are festooned with sea life – a kaleidoscope of color and form kept in constant motion by the Atlantic swell, creating an underwater landscape of breathtaking beauty," reads an excerpt from UNESCO's entry on St. Kilda.

St. Kilda is also known for its wide variety of wild birds, with nearly one million birds living there during mating season, according to UNESCO.

Some historians estimate that the islands may have been inhabited as early as 7,000 years ago, with Vikings passing through in the 9th and 10th centuries, the BBC reported. Early Christian monks settled the island in the intervening centuries, and by the 17th century, St. Kilda was home to at least 180 people.

Richard Burdon / Alamy

Survival remained difficult into the 20th century, as harsh storms pummeled the town and threatened to destroy people's homes and drown their livestock. The remaining few dozen residents requested to be resettled by the British government in 1930, and the island has remained unoccupied ever since.

Visitors can access St. Kilda via boat to see some of its towering cliffs, pristine bays, and wild birds.

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