Map of the Inner and Outer Hebrides

This is a list of islands of Scotland, the mainland of which is part of the island of Great Britain. Also included are various other related tables and lists. The definition of an offshore island used in this list is "land that is surrounded by seawater on a daily basis, but not necessarily at all stages of the tide, excluding human devices such as bridges and causeways".[Note 1]

Scotland has around 900 offshore islands,[1] most of which are to be found in four main groups: Shetland, Orkney, and the Hebrides, sub-divided into the Inner Hebrides and Outer Hebrides.[2] There are also clusters of islands in the Firth of Clyde, Firth of Forth, and Solway Firth, and numerous small islands within the many bodies of fresh water in Scotland including Loch Lomond and Loch Maree. The largest island is Lewis and Harris which extends to 2,179 square kilometres, and there are a further 200 islands which are greater than 40 hectares in area. Of the remainder, several such as Staffa and the Flannan Isles are well known despite their small size.[2] Some 94 Scottish islands are permanently inhabited, of which 89 are offshore islands. Between 2001 and 2011 Scottish island populations as a whole grew by 4% to 103,702.[3]

The geology and geomorphology of the islands is varied. Some, such as Skye and Mull, are mountainous, while others like Tiree and Sanday are relatively low lying. Many have bedrock made from ancient Archaean Lewisian Gneiss which was formed 3 billion years ago; Shapinsay and other Orkney islands are formed from Old Red Sandstone, which is 400 million years old; and others such as Rùm from more recent Tertiary volcanoes.[4] Many of the islands are swept by strong tides, and the Corryvreckan tide race between Scarba and Jura is one of the largest whirlpools in the world.[5] Other strong tides are to be found in the Pentland Firth between mainland Scotland and Orkney, and another example is the "Grey Dog" between Scarba and Lunga.[2]

The culture of the islands has been affected by the successive influences of Celtic, Norse and English speaking peoples, and this is reflected in names given to the islands. Many of the Hebrides have names with Scots Gaelic derivations, whilst those of the Northern Isles tend to be derived from the Viking names. A few have Brythonic, Scots and even perhaps pre-Celtic roots.[2]

A feature of modern island life is the low crime rate, and they are considered to be amongst the safest places to live in Britain.[6] Orkney was rated as the best place to live in Scotland in both 2013 and 2014 according to the Halifax Quality of Life survey.[7]

Rockall is a small rocky islet in the North Atlantic which was declared part of Scotland by the Island of Rockall Act 1972.[8][9] However, despite no possession by any other state and other precedents, the legality of the claim is disputed by the Republic of Ireland, Denmark and Iceland, and some say it may be unenforceable in international law.[10][11]

Eilean Donan castle


Abandoned houses on Fuaigh Mòr, which had a population of 46 prior to being cleared[12]

The 2011 census records 94 Scottish islands as having a usually resident population, of which 89 are offshore islands. There are however various complications with both the definitions of an "island" and occasional habitation; and the National Records of Scotland also list a further 17 islands that were inhabited in 2001 but not in 2011, or are "included in the NRS statistical geography for inhabited islands but had no usual residents at the time of either the 2001 or 2011 censuses".[13] There are a small number of other islands that are evidently inhabited but which are not recorded in this list.[Note 2]

The local government council areas with the most inhabited islands are Argyll and Bute with 23, Orkney with 20, Shetland with 16 and Highland and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar with 14 each. There are also three in North Ayrshire and one each in Fife, Perth and Kinross, Stirling and West Dunbartonshire. The last three named plus two islands in Argyll and Bute are freshwater rather than offshore.[13]

Portree on Skye, an island where the population has grown in recent decades[14]

In the past many smaller islands that are uninhabited today had permanent populations. Losses were severe in many areas during the 19th century when islands such as Pabbay and Fuaigh Mòr were subject to forcible evictions during the Highland Clearances.[15] Mass emigration from the Hebridean islands was at its height in the mid-19th century but it commenced as early as the 1770s in some areas.[16] The crofting counties held 20% of Scotland's population in 1755 but by 1961 this figure had declined to 5%.[17] Other examples are Mingulay, Noss and the St Kilda archipelago, which were abandoned during the course of the 20th century. Declines have been particularly significant in the more remote outlying islands, some of which remain vulnerable to ongoing losses.[18]

The following table shows population trends for the ten most populous islands as of the 2011 census. The overall trends are typically growth in populations in the early part of the modern period, followed by declines from the mid 19th century onwards. In every case except Orkney the highest population was recorded prior to 1932 and the lowest post-industrial revolution figure after 1960. Subsequently, there has been modest growth overall, although some islands are continuing to show a decline. Between 1991 and 2001, the population of the islands as a whole fell by 3% to 99,739, although there were 35 islands whose population increased.[19] By contrast, between 2001 and 2011 Scottish island populations as a whole grew by 4% to 103,702.[3] The Scottish Community Alliance noted that "the largest rate of increase has been in the Western Isles (6%) where local people now own approximately 60% of the landmass. Where populations have fallen (Bute, Arran and Islay) community ownership is virtually non-existent."[20]

Largest Scottish islands by population

Rank Island Local authority Population
c. 1801 1841 1891 1931 1961 1981 2001[19] 2011[13]
1 Lewis and Harris[21] Na h-Eileanan Siar 12,164 20,046 30,726 28,042 24,107 22,476 19,918 21,031
2 Mainland, Shetland[22] Shetland 20,572 19,741 15,172 13,282 17,722 17,550 18,765
3 Mainland, Orkney[23] Orkney 16,022 16,498 13,352 13,495 14,000 15,315 17,162
4 Skye[24] Highland 14,470 (in 1794) 23,082 15,705 9,908 7,479 7,276 9,232 10,008
5 Bute[25] Argyll and Bute 4,759 (in 1792) 7,147 11,735 12,112 9,793 7,306 7,228 6,498
6 Arran[26] North Ayrshire 5,804 (in 1792) 6,241 4,730 4,506 3,700 3,845 5,045 4,629
7 Islay[27] Argyll and Bute 9,500 (in 1792) 15,772 7,375 4,970 3,860 3,792 3,457 3,228
8 Mull[28] Argyll and Bute 8,016 (in 1794) 8,316 4,691 2,903 2,154 2,197 2,667 2,800
9 South Uist[29] Na h-Eileanan Siar 5,093 3,708 2,810 2,376 2,231 1,818 1,754
10 Great Cumbrae[30] North Ayrshire 509 (in 1793) 1,413 1,784 2,144 1,638 1,300 1,434 1,376
Total 123,704 116,693 95,919 81,884 82,145 83,664 87,251
Change −5.7% −7.8% −14.6% +0.3% +1.8% +4.3%

The following table compares the populations of the main Scottish archipelagos with that of the Faroe Islands for a similar time frame to the above.[Note 3]

Archipelago 1801 1851 1901 1931 1971 2011[13]
Hebrides[31] 64,690 88,615 76,780 60,390 45,480 46,632
Change 37% –13% –21% –25% 3%
Orkney[32] 24,445 31,318 27,763 21,933 17,007 21,349
Change 28% –11% –21% –22% 26%
Shetland[33] 22,000 31,000 28,000 21,000 17,500 23,167
Change 41% –10% –25% –17% 32%
Faroe Islands 5,265[34] 8,000[35] 15,230[34] 24,500 38,612[34] 48,515[36]
Change 52% 90% 61% 58% 26%


In July 2013, the Scottish Government made the Lerwick Declaration, indicating an intention to decentralise power to the three island council areas of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles and later that year made a commitment to do so.[37] In 2017 an Islands bill was introduced to make "island proofing" (including for uninhabited islands) a statutory requirement for public bodies. The Bill completed Stage 1 on 8 February 2018.[38]

Larger islands

This is a list of Scottish islands that either have an area greater than 40 hectares (approximately 100 acres) and/or are inhabited. The main groups, from Haswell-Smith (2004), in many cases provide a more useful guide to location than local authority areas. These groups are: Firth of Clyde, Islay, Firth of Lorn, Mull, Small Isles, Skye, Lewis and Harris, Uists and Barra, St Kilda, Orkney, Shetland and Firth of Forth. In a few cases where the island is part of either a recognisable smaller group or an archipelago, or is located away from the main groups, an archipelago, local authority or other descriptive name is used instead. "F" designates a freshwater island.

Scotland's islands include thirteen Munros (mountains with a height over 3,000 feet or 914.4 metres), twelve of them found on Skye, and a total of 227 Marilyns (hills with a relative height of at least 150 metres, regardless of absolute height).[39]

Orkney aerial photomap
The Shetland archipelago
Bressay Lighthouse at Kirkabister Ness, Shetland
The Old Man of Hoy, Orkney, a 137-metre (450 ft) sea stack of red sandstone
Tobermory harbour, Isle of Mull
The cliffs of Creag na Bruaich, Raasay
Dhu Heartach Lighthouse, During Construction by Sam Bough (1822-1878)
Fingal's Cave, Staffa
Kisimul Castle, Barra
Ailsa Craig from the South Ayrshire coast
Iona Abbey
Shiant Islands
Muckle Flugga lighthouse, Shetland
Two of the Paps of Jura. Photo by John Shaw.
The Earl's Palace, Birsay, Orkney
The cliffs of Eshaness, North Mainland, Shetland
The Bass Rock from Tantallon Castle
MV Isle of Lewis in The Minch
Sula Sgeir from the south west
Stornoway harbour, Lewis
Fair Isle cliffs
Callanish Standing Stones, Lewis
Machair at Balephuil Bay, Tiree
The east coast of Mousa towards the Peerie Bard
Clisham, Harris
An Sgurr, Eigg
The rock pinnacles of the Quiraing, Skye
Island Group Area
[40][Note 4]
[13][Note 5]
Ailsa Craig (Creag Ealasaid) Firth of Clyde 99 0 338
Arran (Eilean Arainn) Firth of Clyde 43,201 4,629 874
Auskerry Orkney 85 4 18
Baleshare (Am Baile Sear) Uists and Barra 910 58 12
Balta Shetland 80 0 44
Barra (Barraigh) Uists and Barra 5,875 1,174 383
Barra Head (Beàrnaraigh) Uists and Barra 204 0 193
Benbecula (Beinn nam Fadhla) Uists and Barra 8,203 1,303 124
Berneray (Beàrnaraigh) Uists and Barra 1,010 138 93
Bigga Shetland 78 0 34
Boreray (Boraraigh) St Kilda 86[42] 0 384
Boreray (Boighreigh) Uists and Barra 204 0 56
Bressay Shetland 2,805 368 226
Brother Isle Shetland 40 0 25
Bruray Out Skerries 55 24 53
Burray Orkney 903 409 80
Bute (Bòid) Firth of Clyde 12,217 6,498 278
Calf of Eday Orkney 243 0 54
Calbha Mòr Edrachillis Bay 70[43] 0 67
Calve Island Mull 72 0 20
Canna (Canaigh) Small Isles 1,130 12 210
Cara Islay 66 0 56
Càrna Mull 213 0 169
Cava Orkney 107 0 38
Ceallasaigh Mòr Uists and Barra 55[43] 0 10
Ceallasaigh Beag Uists and Barra 46[43] 0 10
Ceann Ear Monach Islands 203 0 17
Ceann Iar Monach Islands 154 0 19
Coll (Cola) Mull 7,685 195 106
Colonsay (Colbhasa) Islay 4,074 124 143
Copinsay Orkney 73 0 64
Danna Islay 315 * 1 54
Davaar (Eilean Dà Bhàrr) Firth of Clyde 52 * 0 ° 115
Dunglass Island (F) River Conon 40 * 0 8
Easdale (Eilean Èisdeal) Slate Islands 20 <20 * 59 38
East Burra Shetland 515 76 81
Eday Orkney 2,745 160 101
Egilsay Orkney 650 26 35
Eigg (Eige) Small Isles 3,049 83 393
Eileach an Naoimh Garvellachs 56 0 80
Eilean Bàn Highland 10 <10 * 0 ° 5
Eilean Chaluim Chille Lewis and Harris 85 0 43
Eilean Chearstaidh Lewis and Harris 77 0 37
Eilean dà Mhèinn Islay 3 * 1 16
Eilean Donan Highland 1 <1 * 0 ° 3
Eilean Dubh Mòr Slate Islands 65 0 53
Eilean Fladday (Fladaigh) Inner Hebrides 120[43] 0 39
Eilean Liubhaird Lewis and Harris 125 0 76
Eilean Macaskin (Eilean MhicAsgain) Islay 50 0 65
Eilean Meadhonach Crowlin Islands 77 0 54
Eilean Mhealasta Lewis and Harris 124 0 77
Eilean Mhic Chrion Islay 54 * 0 63
Eilean Mòr Crowlin Islands 170 0 114
Eilean Mòr (F) Lewis 59 * 0 64
Eilean nan Ròn Highland 138 0 76
Eilean Righ Islay 86 0 55
Eilean Shona (Eilean Seòna Small Isles 525 2 265
Eilean Sùbhainn (F) Loch Maree 118 * 0 36
Eilean Tigh Skye 54[43] 0 111
Eilean Tioram Highland 2 * 6 10
Eilean Trodday (Tròndaigh) Skye 42 0 45
Eileanan Iasgaich Uists and Barra 50 0 23
Ensay (Easaigh) Uists and Barra 186 0 49
Eorsa Mull 122 0 98
Eriska (Aoraisge) Loch Linnhe 310 * -[Note 6] 47
Eriskay (Èirisgeigh) Uists and Barra 703 143 185
Erraid (Eilean Earraid) Mull 187 6 75
Eynhallow Orkney 75 0 30
Fair Isle Shetland 768 68 217
Fara Orkney 295 0 43
Faray Orkney 180 0 32
Fetlar Shetland 4,078 61 158
Fiaraidh Uists and Barra 41 0 30
Flodaigh Uists and Barra 145 * 7 20
Flodaigh Mòr Uists and Barra 58 0 28
Flodday, Sound of Barra Uists and Barra 40 0 41
Flotta Orkney 876 80 58
Foula Shetland 1,265 38 418
Fraoch-eilean Uists and Barra 55[43] -[Note 7] 11
Fuaigh Mòr Lewis and Harris 84 0 67
Fuday (Fùideigh) Uists and Barra 232 0 89
Fuiay (Fùidheigh) Uists and Barra 84 0 107
Gairsay Orkney 240 3 102
Garbh Eileach Garvellachs 142 0 110
Garbh Eilean Shiant Islands 143 0 160
Garbh Eilean, Loch Maree (F) Loch Maree 65 * 0 25
Gigha (Giogha) Islay 1,395 163 100
Gighay (Gioghaigh) Uists and Barra 96 0 95
Glimps Holm Orkney 55 0 32
Gometra (Gòmastra) Mull 425 2 155
Graemsay Orkney 409 28 62
Great Bernera (Beàrnaraigh Mòr) Lewis and Harris 2,122 252 87
Great Cumbrae (Cumaradh Mòr) Firth of Clyde 1,168 1,376 127
Grimsay (Griomasaigh) Uists and Barra 833 169 22
Grimsay (South) (Griomasaigh) Uists and Barra 117 * 20 20
Gruinard Island (Eilean Ghruinneard) Highland 196 0 106
Gunna (Gunnaigh) Mull 69 0 35
Handa (Eilean Shannda) Highland 309 0 123
Hascosay Shetland 275 0 30
Hellisay (Theiliseigh) Uists and Barra 142 0 79
Hermetray (Thearmatraigh) Uists and Barra 72 0 35
Hildasay Shetland 108 0 32
Hirta (Hiort) St Kilda 670 0 430
Holm of Grimbister Orkney 16[43] 3 8
Holy Island (Eilean MoLaise) Firth of Clyde 253 31 314
Horse Island Summer Isles 53 0 60
Housay Out Skerries 163 50 53
Hoy Orkney 13,458 419[45] 481
Hunda Orkney 100 0 41
Inchcailloch (Innis nan Cailleach) (F) Loch Lomond 50[43] 0 85
Inchcolm (Innis Choluim) Firth of Forth 9 * 0 ° 34
Inchfad (Innis Fhada) (F) Loch Lomond 40 c.40 * 1 24
Inch Kenneth (Innis Choinnich) Mull 55 0 49
Inchlonaig (F) Loch Lomond 80[43] 0 62
Inchmarnock (Innis Mheàrnaig) Firth of Clyde 266 0 60
Inchmurrin (Innis Mheadhrain) (F) Loch Lomond 120[43] 8 89
Inchtavannach (Innis Taigh a' Mhanaich) (F) Loch Lomond 70[43] 3 84
Inner Holm Orkney 2 * 1 7
Innis Chonain (F) Loch Awe 8 * 5 62
Iona (Ì Chaluim Chille) Mull 877 177 100
Isay (Ìosaigh) Skye 60 0 28
Islay (Ìle) Islay 61,956 3,228 491
Isle Martin (Eilean Mhàrtainn) Summer Isles 157 0 120
Isle of Ewe (Eilean Iùbh) Highland 309 7 72
Isle of May (Eilean Mhàigh) Firth of Forth 45 0 50
Isle Ristol (Eilean Ruisteil) Summer Isles 225 * 0 71
Jura (Diùra) Islay 36,692 196 785
Kerrera (Cearrara) Firth of Lorne 1,214 34 189
Killegray (Ceileagraigh) Lewis and Harris 176 0 45
Kirkibost (Eilean Chirceboist) Uists and Barra 205 0 7
Lamba Shetland 43 0 35
Lamb Holm Orkney 40 0 20
Lewis and Harris (Leòdhas agus na Hearadh) Lewis and Harris 217,898 21,031 799
Linga, Muckle Roe Shetland 70 0 69
Linga, Yell Shetland 45 0 26
Linga Holm Orkney 57 0 10
Lismore (Lios Mòr) Loch Linnhe 2,351 192 127
Little Bernera (Beàrnaraigh Beag) Lewis and Harris 138 0 41
Little Colonsay (Colbhasa Beag) Mull 88 0 61
Little Cumbrae (Cumaradh Beag) Firth of Clyde 313 0 123
Longa Island (Longa) Highland 126 0 70
Longay (Longaigh) Skye 50 0 67
Luing (Luinn) Slate Islands 1,430 195 94
Lunga Slate Islands 254 0 ° 98
Lunga Treshnish Isles 81 0 103
Mainland, Orkney Orkney 52,325 17,162 271
Mainland, Shetland Shetland 96,879 18,765 450
Mingulay (Miughalaigh) Uists and Barra 640 0 273
Moncreiffe Island (Eilean Mhon Craoibhe) (F) River Tay 46 * 3 5
Mousa Shetland 180 0 55
Muck (Eilean nam Muc) Small Isles 559 27 137
Muckle Roe Shetland 1,773 130 267
Muldoanich (Maol Dòmhnaich) Uists and Barra 78 0 153
Mull (Muile) Mull 87,535 2,800 966
North Rona (Rònaigh) Atlantic Outlier 109 0 108
North Ronaldsay Orkney 690 72 20
North Uist (Uibhist a Tuath) Uists and Barra 30,305 1,254 347
Isle of Noss Shetland 343 0 181
Oldany Island Highland 200 * 0 104
Oronsay (Orasa) Islay 543 8 93
Oronsay (Orasaigh) Uists and Barra 85 0 25
Oronsay (Orasaigh) Mull 230 * 0 58
Oxna Shetland 68 0 38
Pabay (Pabaigh) Skye 122 0 28
Pabay Mòr (Pabaigh Mòr) Lewis and Harris 101 0 68
Pabbay (Pabaigh) Uists and Barra 250 0 171
Pabbay (Pabaigh) Lewis and Harris 820 0 196
Papa Shetland 59 0 32
Papa Little Shetland 226 0 82
Papa Stour Shetland 828 15 87
Papa Stronsay Orkney 74 0 ° 13
Papa Westray Orkney 918 90 48
Priest Island (Eilean a' Chlèirich) Summer Isles 122 0 78
Raasay (Ratharsair) Skye 6,405 161 443
Ronay (Rònaigh) Uists and Barra 563 0 115
Rousay Orkney 4,860 216 250
Rùm Small Isles 10,463 22 812
Samphrey Shetland 66 0 29
Sanda Island (Àbhainn) Firth of Clyde 151 0 ° 123
Sanday (Sanndaigh) Orkney 5,043 494 65
Sanday (Sanndaigh) Small Isles 184 9 59
Sandray (Sanndraigh) Uists and Barra 385 0 207
Scalpay (Sgalpaigh) Skye 2,483 2 392
Scalpay (Sgalpaigh) Lewis and Harris 653 291 104
Scarba (Sgarba) Islay 1,474 0 449
Scarp (An Sgarp) Lewis and Harris 1,045 0 308
Seaforth Island (Eilean Shìphoirt) Lewis and Harris 273 0 217
Seil (Saoil) Slate Islands 1,329 551 146
Sgeotasaigh Lewis and Harris 49 0 57
Shapinsay Orkney 2,948 307 64
Shillay (Siolaigh) Lewis and Harris 47 0 79
Shuna (Siuna) Slate Islands 451 3 90
Shuna (Siuna) Loch Linnhe 155 0 71
Skye (An t-Eilean Sgitheanach) Skye 165,625 10,008 993
Soay (Sòdhaigh) Skye 1,036 1 141
Soay (Soaigh) St Kilda 99 0 378
Soay Mòr (Sòdhaigh Mòr) Lewis and Harris 45 0 37
South Havra Shetland 59 0 42
South Rona (Rònaigh) Skye 930 3 125
South Ronaldsay Orkney 4,980 909 118
South Uist (Uibhist a Deas) Uists and Barra 32,026 1,754 620
South Walls Orkney 1,100[43] - [45] 57
Stockinish Island (Eilean Stocainis) Lewis and Harris 49 0 44
Stroma (Sròmaigh) Highland 375 0 53
Stromay (Sròmaigh) Uists and Barra 66 0 16
Stronsay Orkney 3,275 349 44
Stuley (Stadhlaigh) Uists and Barra 45 0 40
Switha Orkney 41 0 29
Swona Orkney 92 0 41
Tahay (Tathaigh) Uists and Barra 53 0 65
Tanera Beag (Tannara Beag) Summer Isles 66 0 83
Tanera Mòr (Tannara Mòr) Summer Isles 310 4 124
Taransay (Tarasaigh) Lewis and Harris 1,475 0 267
Texa Islay 48 0 48
Tiree (Tiriodh) Mull 7,834 653 141
Torsa Slate Islands 113 0 62
Trondra Shetland 275 135 60
Ulva (Ulbha) Mull 1,990 11 313
Unst Shetland 12,068 632 284
Uyea, Unst Shetland 205 0 50
Vaila Shetland 327 2 95
Vacsay (Bhacasaigh) Lewis and Harris 41 0 34
Vallay (Bhàlaigh) Uists and Barra 260 0 38
Vatersay (Bhatarsaigh) Uists and Barra 960 90 185
Vementry Shetland 370 0 90
West Burra Shetland 743 776 217
West Linga Shetland 125 0 52
Westray Orkney 4,713 588 169
Whalsay Shetland 1,970 1,061 119
Wiay (Fùidheigh) Skye 148 0 60
Wiay (Fùidheigh) Uists and Barra 375 0 102
Wyre Orkney 311 29 32
Yell Shetland 21,211 966 205

Four islands were recorded as inhabited in 2011 that were not mentioned in the 2001 census: Eilean dà Mhèinn, Eilean Tioram, Holm of Grimbister and Inner Holm.[13]

These following are listed by the National Records of Scotland as "included in the NRS statistical geography for inhabited islands but had no usual residents at the time of either the 2001 or 2011 censuses."[13] None except Lamb Holm are greater than 40 ha in area.

Island Location
Castle Stalker (Eilean an Stalcaire) Firth of Lorn
Eilean Horrisdale (Eilean Thòrathasdail) Gair Loch
Eilean Loain Loch Sween
Eilean na Cille Uists and Barra
Ensay Lewis and Harris
Inch Kenneth (Innis Choinnich) Mull
Inchlonaig (Innis Lònaig) (F) Loch Lomond
Inchcruin (Innis Cruinn) (F)[Note 8] Loch Lomond
Kisimul Castle (Caisteal Chiosmuil) Uists and Barra
Lamb Holm Orkney

Freshwater islands

Loch Lomond from Beinn Dubh and Creag an t-Seilich

Main article: List of freshwater islands in Scotland

There are numerous other freshwater islands, of which the more notable include Lochindorb Castle Island, Loch Leven Castle Island, St Serf's Inch, and Inchmahome, each of which have played an important part in Scottish history.

Inchmurrin is the largest freshwater island in the British Isles.[46][47] It is in Loch Lomond, which contains over sixty other islands.[47] Loch Maree also contains several islands, the largest of which are Eilean Sùbhainn, Garbh Eilean and Eilean Ruairidh Mòr but aren't as big as others.

Smaller offshore islands


This is a continuing list of uninhabited Scottish islands smaller than 40 hectares in size.

Name Island group / location
Bac Mòr Inner Hebrides: Treshnish Isles
Bass Rock Firth of Forth
Bayble Island Outer Hebrides: Lewis and Harris
Bearasaigh Outer Hebrides: Lewis: Loch Ròg
Belnahua Inner Hebrides: Slate Islands
Bottle Island Summer Isles
Brough of Birsay Orkney
Bound Skerry Shetland
Cairn na Burgh Beag Inner Hebrides: Treshnish Isles
Cairn na Burgh Mòr Inner Hebrides: Treshnish Isles
Calbha Beag Sutherland: Edrachillis Bay
Calf of Flotta Orkney
Calvay Outer Hebrides: South Uist
Campaigh Outer Hebrides: Lewis: Loch Ròg
Castle Island Firth of Clyde
Clett Highland
Corn Holm Orkney
Craigleith Firth of Forth
Craiglethy Kincardineshire: Fowlsheugh
Cramond Island Firth of Forth
Damsay Orkney
Dore Holm Shetland
Dubh Artach Inner Hebrides
Dùn St Kilda
Dùn Chonnuill Inner Hebrides: Garvellachs
East Linga Shetland
Eilean Chathastail Inner Hebrides: Small Isles
Eilean Dubh Firth of Clyde
Eilean Ighe Inner Hebrides: Arisaig
Eilean Mhuire Outer Hebrides: Shiant Islands
Eilean Mòr, Loch Dunvegan Skye
Eyebroughy Firth of Forth
Fidra Firth of Forth
Fish Holm Shetland
Fladda Inner Hebrides: Slate Islands
Fladda Treshnish Isles
Flodday near Vatersay Outer Hebrides: Barra Islands
Fuaigh Beag (Vuia Beg) Outer Hebrides: Lewis: Loch Ròg
Gasker Outer Hebrides: Harris
Garbh Sgeir Inner Hebrides: Small Isles
Gigalum Island Inner Hebrides: Gigha
Gloup Holm Shetland
Glunimore Island Firth of Clyde
Grunay Shetland: Out Skerries
Gruney Shetland
Gualan Outer Hebrides: Benbecula
Haaf Gruney Shetland
Harlosh Island Inner Hebrides: Skye
Haskeir Outer Hebrides
Haskeir Eagach Outer Hebrides
Hearnish Outer Hebrides: Monach Islands
Helliar Holm Orkney
Hestan Island Solway Firth
Holm of Faray Orkney
Holm of Huip Orkney
Holm of Papa Orkney
Holm of Scockness Orkney
Horse Isle Firth of Clyde
Huney Shetland
Inchgarvie Firth of Forth
Inchkeith Firth of Forth
Inchmickery Firth of Forth
Innis Mhòr Easter Ross
Kili Holm Orkney
Lady's Holm Shetland
Lady Isle Firth of Clyde
Lamb Firth of Forth
Little Linga Shetland
Little Roe Shetland
Linga, Samphrey Shetland
Lingeigh Outer Hebrides: Barra Islands
Lunna Holm Shetland
Maiden Island Inner Hebrides: Oban Bay
Mingay Inner Hebrides: Skye
Muckle Flugga Shetland
Muckle Green Holm Orkney
Muckle Skerry Pentland Skerries
Mugdrum Island Firth of Tay
Nave Island Inner Hebrides: Islay
North Havra Shetland
Oigh-Sgeir Inner Hebrides
Orfasay Shetland
Ornsay Inner Hebrides: Skye
Orsay Inner Hebrides: Islay
Out Stack Shetland
Pladda Firth of Clyde
Rockall North Atlantic
Rough Island Solway Firth
Rusk Holm Orkney
Rysa Little Orkney
Scaravay Outer Hebrides: Sound of Harris
Sgat Mòr and Sgat Beag Firth of Clyde
Sheep Island Firth of Clyde
Sibhinis Outer Hebrides: Monach Islands
Shillay Outer Hebrides: Monach Islands
Soay Beag Outer Hebrides: Harris
South Isle of Gletness Shetland
St Ninian's Isle Shetland
Stac an Armin St Kilda
Stac Biorach St Kilda
Stac Lee St Kilda
Stac Levenish St Kilda
Staffa Inner Hebrides
Stockay Outer Hebrides: Monach Islands
Stuley Outer Hebrides: South Uist
Sula Sgeir North Atlantic
Sule Skerry North Atlantic
Sule Stack North Atlantic
Sweyn Holm Orkney
Tarner Island Inner Hebrides: Skye
Texa Inner Hebrides: Islay
Trialabreac Outer Hebrides
Urie Lingey Shetland
Uyea, Northmavine Shetland
Uynarey Shetland
Vacsay Outer Hebrides: Lewis: Loch Ròg

Small archipelagos

Boreray, Stac Lee, and Stac an Armin (left) from the heights of Conachair, St Kilda

There are various small archipelagos which may be better known than the larger islands they contain. These include:

Name Island group / location
Ascrib Islands Skye
Burnt Islands Firth of Clyde
Crowlin Islands Skye
Flannan Isles Lewis and Harris
Islands of Fleet Solway Firth (Wigtown Bay)
Garvellachs Firth of Lorn
MacCormaig Islands Islay
Monach Islands Uists
Out Skerries Shetland
Pentland Skerries Orkney
Rabbit Islands (Eileanan nan Gall) Highland (N Sutherland)
Ramna Stacks Shetland
Scalloway Isles Shetland
Shiant Islands Lewis and Harris
Slate Islands Firth of Lorn
St Kilda Lewis and Harris
Summer Isles Inner Hebrides
Treshnish Isles Mull

Former islands

Ruined ecclesiastical buildings remain visible on Eilean Chaluim Chille, near Kilmuir, Skye

The following is a list of places which were formerly islands, but which are no longer so due to silting up, harbour building etc.

Bridged islands

Skye Bridge, Isle of Skye
Inchgarvie can be seen just below the Forth Bridge.
The stone causeway to Danna

Many of Scotland's islands are connected to the mainland and/or other islands by bridge or causeway. Although some people consider them no longer to be islands, they are generally treated as such.

Outer Hebrides

Many of the islands of the southern Outer Hebrides have been joined to other islands by causeways and bridges. These include:

To the north, Scalpay and Great Bernera are connected to Lewis and Harris.

Inner Hebrides

Orkney Islands

Churchill Barrier 1, blocking Kirk Sound

Similarly, four Orkney islands are joined to the Orkney Mainland by a series of causeways known as the Churchill Barriers. They are:

Hunda is in turn connected to Burray via a causeway.

South Walls and Hoy are connected by a causeway called the Ayre. The islands are treated as one entity (Hoy) by the UK census.

An undersea tunnel between the archipelago and Caithness, at a length of about 9–10 miles (14–16 km) and a tunnel connecting Orkney Mainland to Shapinsay have been discussed,[57][58] although little has come of it.

Shetland Islands

Several Shetland islands are joined to the Shetland Mainland:

There is also a bridge which joins Housay and Bruray in the Out Skerries.


Various other islands are also connected by bridges or causeways, to the mainland or other islands, including:

Tidal islands and tombolos

A beach on Oronsay by Colonsay, looking towards the Paps of Jura in the distance
St Ninian's Isle and tombolo

There are a large number of small tidal islands in Scotland. The more notable ones include:

Oronsay means "ebb island" and there are several tidal islands of this name.[61]

The three main islands of the Monach Islands (Heisgeir), Ceann Iar, Ceann Ear and Shivinish are connected at low tides. It is said that at one time it was also possible to walk all the way to Baleshare, and on to North Uist, five miles (eight kilometres) away at low tide. In the 16th century, a large tidal wave was said to have washed the route away.[2]

St Ninian's Isle is connected to Mainland Shetland by a tombolo. Although greater than 40 hectares in size it fails to meet the definition of an island used in this list as it is only surrounded by water during occasional spring tides and storms.[62]

Dùn in St Kilda is separated from Hirta by a shallow strait about 50 metres (160 feet) wide. This is normally impassable but is reputed to dry out on rare occasions.[2]

Complex islands

The islands of Eileanan Chearabhaigh at centre, with mainland Benbecula in the foreground and the northern tip of Wiay beyond

There are a number of offshore islands that defy easy classification.

Castle islands

Castle Stalker, as seen in Monty Python and the Holy Grail

There are several small Scottish islands that are dominated by a castle or other fortification. The castle is often better known than the island, and the islands are often tidal or bridged. Due to their picturesque nature some of them are well known from postcards and films. Examples are:

Many of the Islands of the Forth and southern Orkney Islands have fortifications from the two world wars. Rosyth Castle stands on a former island.

Holy islands

The Tibetan Buddhist Centre for World Peace and Health on Holy Island
Oronsay Priory

A large number of the islands of Scotland have some kind of culdee/church connection, and/or are dominated by a church. The more notable include:

Brother Isle's name is not ecclesiastical in origin as is sometimes stated.

Islands named after people

This is a list of islands, which are known to be named after someone. In some cases such as North Ronaldsay this status may not be obvious (it isn't named after a "Ronald", unlike South Ronaldsay). This list omits names such as Hildasay, where the person in question is mythological, or Ailsa Craig, where the individual in question is not known, and also Colonsay & Egilsay where the derivation is disputed.

Iqbal Singh, the owner of Vacsay, has also expressed wishes to rename it after Robert Burns.

Places called "island" etc. that are not islands

Burntisland - not actually an island

Some places in Scotland with names including "isle" or "island" are not islands. They include:

Name Island group / location It actually is
Barmore Island Knapdale part of mainland
Black Isle (An t-Eilean Dubh) Ross and Cromarty peninsula
Burntisland Fife part of mainland
Eilean na h-Eaglaise Torsa peninsula
Eilean Garbh Gigha a peninsula of Gigha
Isle of Fethaland Shetland place on mainland of Shetland
Gluss Isle Shetland joined to mainland of Shetland
Isle of Harris (Na Hearadh) Outer Hebrides part of an island
Isle of Lewis (Eilean Leòdhais) Outer Hebrides part of an island
Isleornsay (Eilean Iarmain) Skye place on Skye
Islesteps (south of Dumfries) Dumfries and Galloway inland place in Scotland
Isle of Whithorn Dumfries and Galloway place on coast of Scotland

Lewis and Harris are separated by a range of hills but form one island, and are sometimes referred to as "Lewis and Harris". Isle of Whithorn and the Black Isle are peninsulas, and Isleornsay is a village which looks out onto the island of Ornsay. There is no commonly accepted derivation for "Burntisland" which had numerous other forms in the past, such as "Brintilun" and "Ye Brint Eland".[63]

Gluss Isle at the western entrance to Sullom Voe is one of the many promontories in Orkney and Shetland connected to a larger body of land by an ayre.

Other elements

Vementry Farm, on Mainland Shetland, with Isle of Vementry in hinterground

The name "Inch" (Innis) can mean island (e.g. Inchkenneth, Inchcolm), but is also used for terra firma surrounded by marsh e.g. Markinch, Insch.

Eilean is Gaelic for "island". However, Inistrynich, Eilean na Maodail, Eilean Dubh and Liever Island are all promontories on Loch Awe as opposed to islands, despite their names. Likewise Eilean Aoidhe on Loch Fyne. The Black Isle is also An t-Eilean Dubh in Gaelic, while Eilean Glas is part of Scalpay.

"-holm" is also common as a suffix in various landlocked placenames, especially in the far south of mainland Scotland e.g. Langholm, Kirk Yetholm, Holmhead (by Cumnock), Holmhill (next to Thornhill, Nithsdale). Some of these were river islands in their time, or dry land surrounded by marsh. "Holm" can be found in an element in Holmsgarth, now a suburb of Lerwick and the Parish of Holm on Mainland Shetland and Mainland Orkney respectively. Neither of these is an island in its own right.

Islands named after mainland areas

Likewise, occasionally an island may be named after a location on the nearby mainland, or a major neighbouring island - or vice versa. Examples of this include: Vementry, which was originally the name of an island, but whose name has been transferred to a nearby farm on Mainland Shetland; Oldany Island, whose name has been transferred to Oldany; Cramond Island which is named after neighbouring Cramond (a district of Edinburgh); and Eilean Mhealasta in the Outer Hebrides, which is named after Mealista on Lewis.

The name Easdale appears to be the combination of eas, which is Gaelic for "waterfall" and dal, the Norse for "valley".[64] However, it is not clear why either description should apply to this tiny island which is low lying and has no waterfalls and the name may have come from the nearby village of the same name on Seil.[65]

The 172m high Stac Lee off the coast of Boreray, St Kilda


Main article: List of sea stacks in Scotland

It has been estimated that there are about 275 sea stacks in Scotland of which circa 110 are located around the coasts of Shetland.[66] The highest are Stac an Armin and Stac Lee,[67] St Kilda. In July 1967 15 million people watched the climbing of the Old Man of Hoy live on BBC television.[68] However, for many of the remoter stacks especially in Shetland, there is no record of there having been any attempt by rock climbers to ascend them.[69]


Modern reconstruction of a crannog in Loch Tay

Crannogs are prehistoric artificial islands created in lochs. There are several hundred sites in Scotland. Today, crannogs typically appear as small, circular islands, between 10 and 30 metres (30–100 feet) in diameter.[70] Scottish crannogs include:

See also

Inchcolm Abbey, Firth of Forth

References and footnotes


  1. ^ Various other definitions are used. For example the General Register Office for Scotland define an island as "a mass of land surrounded by water, separate from the Scottish mainland" but although they include islands linked by bridges etc. this is not clear from this definition. Haswell-Smith (2004) uses "an Island is a piece of land or group of pieces of land which is entirely surrounded by water at Lowest Astronomical Tide and to which there is no permanent means of dry access". This is widely agreed to be unhelpful as it excludes bridged islands. However, the large numbers of small tidal islets essentially defy categorisation.
  2. ^ The evidence of maps, sources and photographs makes it clear that South Walls, Eriska and Fraoch-eilean are permanently inhabited. These three are tidal islands, although other similar islands are listed. The freshwater islands of Eilean Aigas and Contin Island are also omitted.
  3. ^ For a discussion of some of the factors involved see Coull (1967).
  4. ^ Island areas indicated with an asterisk are estimates based on Ordnance Survey maps and General Register Office for Scotland statistics.
  5. ^ Islands classified as inhabited in the 2001 census but not in 2011, and by implication classified as occasionally inhabited, are indicated with a degree symbol °.
  6. ^ This island has a hotel[44] but the census does not refer to the island at all.
  7. ^ This island is at (grid reference NF860580) and the evidence of both Ordnance Survey maps and photographs (e.g. "Houses on Seana Bhaile" Geograph. Retrieved 10 August 2009) indicates a resident population. There is even a name, Seana Bhaile for the main settlement. However, neither the census nor the main reference work (Haswell-Smith 2004) refer to the island at all. Its small population is presumably included in nearby Grimsay (which has a population of over 800) by the census.
  8. ^ Referred to by the National Records of Scotland (2013) as "Inchruin", which is presumably a typographical error.

Specific references

  1. ^ "Facts and figures about Scotland's sea area". Marine Scotland Information. Marine Scotland. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Haswell-Smith (2004)
  3. ^ a b "Scotland's 2011 census: Island living on the rise". BBC News. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  4. ^ McKirdy, Alan Gordon, John & Crofts, Roger (2007) Land of Mountain and Flood: The Geology and Landforms of Scotland. Edinburgh. Birlinn.
  5. ^ The Corryvreckan is regularly cited as the third largest whirlpool of the world - see for example "Corryvreckan Whirlpool " Gazetteer for Scotland. Retrieved 19 September 2009. Some sources suggest it is the second largest after the Moskstraumen.
  6. ^ Ross, John (5 October 2007). "Isolated Communities Where Violent Crime Comes as a Shock". The Scotsman. Edinburgh.
  7. ^ Harrison, Jody (20 December 2014) "Orkney best for quality of life". Glasgow. The Herald. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  8. ^ "On This Day: 21 September". BBC. 21 September 1955. Retrieved 1 August 2007.
  9. ^ "House of Lords Hansard". 24 June 1997. Retrieved 1 August 2007.
  10. ^ "Oral Questions to the Minister of Foreign Affairs". Official Report of the Parliamentary Debates of the Houses of the Oireachtas. Dáil Éireann. 1 November 1973. Archived from the original on 22 August 2006. Retrieved 17 January 2007.
  11. ^ MacDonald (2006) pp. 627–647.
  12. ^ Haswell-Smith (2007) p. 306
  13. ^ a b c d e f g National Records of Scotland (2013) pp. 11-13
  14. ^ Haswell-Smith (2007) p. 173
  15. ^ Haswell-Smith (2007) pp. 269, 306-07
  16. ^ Symonds (1999) p. 101
  17. ^ Turnock (1969) p. 190
  18. ^ Wenham, Sheena "Modern Times" in Omand (2003) p. 110.
  19. ^ a b General Register Office for Scotland (2003)
  20. ^ "Increase in islands’ population". Scottish Community Alliance. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  21. ^ Haswell-Smith (2004) p. 288
  22. ^ Haswell-Smith (2004) p. 434
  23. ^ Haswell-Smith (2004) p. 354
  24. ^ Haswell-Smith (2004) p. 173
  25. ^ Haswell-Smith (2004) p. 23
  26. ^ Haswell-Smith (2004) p. 11
  27. ^ Haswell-Smith (2004) p. 41
  28. ^ Haswell-Smith (2004) p. 87
  29. ^ Haswell-Smith (2004) p. 236
  30. ^ Haswell-Smith (2004) p. 18
  31. ^ Murray (1973) p. 216
  32. ^ "Orkney" GENUKI quoting census data. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
  33. ^ Nicolson (1972) p. 92
  34. ^ a b c Bailey (1998) p. 314
  35. ^ "POPU08: Historical population, 1000s, by reporting country and time". Nordon. Archived from the original on 13 November 2016. Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  36. ^ "Population and elections". Hagstova Føroya. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
  37. ^ Ross, David (23 November 2013). "Islands set to win key decision-making powers with unprecedented legislation". The Herald (Glasgow). Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  38. ^ "Islands (Scotland) Bill" Scottish Government. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  39. ^ D.A. Bearhop (1997). Munro's Tables. Scottish Mountaineering Club & Trust. ISBN 978-0-907521-53-2.
  40. ^ Haswell-Smith (2004), save as otherwise stated.
  41. ^ Ordnance Survey. OS Maps Online (Map). 1:25,000. Leisure. Retrieved 21 August 2013. The maps mark the height above sea level of a high point on most islands, but in a few cases this is not the highest peak.
  42. ^ United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre Archived 2007-07-05 at
  43. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Rick Livingstone’s Tables of the Islands of Scotland (pdf) Argyll Yacht Charters. Retrieved 12 Dec 2011.
  44. ^ "Come to our Island and Enjoy...". Isle of Eriska Hotel. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
  45. ^ a b The census does not list South Walls as an island, but includes the total in Hoy.
  46. ^ "Loch Lomond Islands - Inchmurrin". Loch Retrieved 20 April 2012.
  47. ^ a b Dow, Jim (2005) Islands Galore. A Scottish Islands Handbook. Edinburgh. Black & White Publishing.
  48. ^ "Broch of Clickimin" Undiscovered Scotland. Retrieved 20 December 2009.
  49. ^ "Slate Islands - The Islands that Roofed the World" Retrieved 14 November 2009.
  50. ^ "Local Names" Archived 2011-07-19 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 3 January 2009.
  51. ^ Hansom, JD and Black, SDL (1996) "The Geomorphology of Morrich More: Management Prescription Review" Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine (pdf) SNH. Retrieved 29 November 2009.
  52. ^ "Preston Island". Gazetteer for Scotland. Retrieved 26 December 2009.
  53. ^ “Map of Shetland Sheet 053”. British History Online. Retrieved 12 September 2021.
  54. ^ “Scottle Holm, Shetland Islands”. Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 12 September 2021.
  55. ^ a b Ordnance Survey. OS Maps Online (Map). 1:25,000. Leisure.
  56. ^ Paxton, R.; Shipway, J. (2007). Scotland - Highlands and Islands. Civil Engineering Heritage. London: Thomas Telford Publishing. ISBN 9780727734884.
  57. ^ David Lister (5 September 2005). "Islanders see a brighter future with tunnel vision". The Times. London. Retrieved 28 April 2007.
  58. ^ John Ross (10 March 2005). "£100m tunnel to Orkney 'feasible'". The Scotsman. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  59. ^ Clickimin Broch Gazetteer for Scotland. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  60. ^ For images see "Island 478 - Holm of Mel, Bressay, Shetland". Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  61. ^ Pàrlamaid na h-Alba placenames Retrieved 16 July 2007.
  62. ^ Fettes College Shetland Landscapes Retrieved 3 August 2007.
  63. ^ Burntisland Online Retrieved 22 June 2007.
  64. ^ Haswell-Smith (2004), p. 78.
  65. ^ Murton (2017), p. 29.
  66. ^ Mellor 2020, pp. 5–6.
  67. ^ Mellor 2020, p. 138.
  68. ^ "The Great Climb". BBC Scotland. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  69. ^ Mellor 2020, p. 184.
  70. ^ "What is a crannog?". Scottish Crannog Centre. Retrieved 12 November 2016.

General references

Media related to Islands of Scotland at Wikimedia Commons