tide race

List of islands of Scotland

This is a list of the 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 that it 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".

Scotland has over 790 offshore islands, 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. 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 freshwater in Scotland including Loch Lomond and Loch Maree.

Many of these islands are swept by strong tides, and the Corryvreckan tide race between Scarba and Jura is one of the largest whirlpools in the world. Other strong tides are to be found in the Pentland Firth between mainland Scotland and Orkney, and the "Grey Dog" between Scarba and Lunga. The geology and geomorphology of the islands is varied. Some such as Skye and Mull are mountainous whilst others like Tiree and Sanday are relatively low lying. Many have bedrock made from ancient Archaen Lewisian Gneiss which was originally laid down 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

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 have achieved considerable notability despite their small size.

Some 97 Scottish islands are populated, of which 92 are offshore islands. Many previously inhabited islands such as Mingulay, Noss and the St Kilda archipelago have been abandoned during the course of the past century and today only 14 islands are populated by over 1,000 people and 45 by over 100. Between 1991 and 2001, the population of the islands fell by 3 per cent overall, although there were 35 islands whose population increased. The total population of all the islands in 2001 was 99,739.

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. Most of the Hebrides have 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. A feature of modern island life is the low crime rate and they are considered to be amongst the safest places to live in the UK.

Rockall, is a small rocky islet in the North Atlantic which was declared part of Scotland by the Island of Rockall Act 1972. However, the legality of the claim is disputed by the Republic of Ireland, Denmark and Iceland and it is probably unenforceable in international law.

Larger islands

This is a list of Scottish islands either with an area greater than 40 hectares (approximately 100 acres) and/or which are inhabited. The "Groups" which in many cases provide a more useful guide to location than local authority areas are after Haswell-Smith (2004). The main 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 either part of recognisable smaller group or 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.

Sortable table
Island Group Area (ha) Population Height (m)
Ailsa Craig Firth of Clyde 0 338
Arran Firth of Clyde 5045 874
Auskerry Orkney 5 18
Baleshare Uists and Barra 49 12
Balta Shetland 0 44
Barra Uists and Barra 1078 383
Barra Head Uists and Barra 0 193
Benbecula Uists and Barra 1219 124
Berneray, North Uist Uists and Barra 136 93
Bigga Shetland 0 34 Boreray St Kilda 0 384 Boreray Uists and Barra 0 56 Bressay Shetland 384 226 Brother Isle Shetland 0 25 Bruray Out Skerries 26 53 Burray Orkney 357 80 Bute Firth of Clyde 7149 278 Calf of Eday Orkney 0 54 Calve Island Mull 0 20 Canna Small Isles 6 210 Cara Islay 0 56 Càrna Mull 0 169 Cava Orkney 0 38 Ceallasaigh Mòr Uists and Barra * 0 10 Ceann Ear Monach Islands 0 17 Ceann Iar Monach Islands 0 19 Coll Mull 164 104 Colonsay Islay 108 143 Copinsay Orkney 0 64 Danna Islay * 5 54 Davaar Firth of Clyde * 2 115 Easdale Slate Islands <20 * 58 38 East Burra Shetland 66 81 Eday Orkney 121 101 Egilsay Orkney 37 35 Eigg Small Isles 67 393 Eileach an Naoimh Garvellachs 0 80 Eilean Bàn, Lochalsh Highland <10 * 2 5 Eilean Chaluim Chille Lewis and Harris 0 43 Eilean Donan Highland <1 * 1 3 Eilean Dubh Mòr Slate Islands 0 53 Eilean Liubhaird Lewis and Harris 0 76 Eilean Kearstay Lewis and Harris 0 37 Eilean Macaskin Islay 0 65 Eilean Mòr Crowlin Islands 0 114 Eilean nan Ròn Highland 0 76 Eilean Righ Islay 0 55 Eilean Ruairidh Mòr (F) Loch Maree * 0 51 Eilean Shona Small Isles 9 265 Eilean Sùbhainn (F) Loch Maree * 0 36 Eileanan Iasgaich Uists and Barra 0 23 Ensay Uists and Barra 0 49 Eorsa Mull 0 98 Eriska Loch Linnhe * 0 47 Eriskay Uists and Barra 133 185 Erraid Mull 8 75 Eynhallow Orkney 0 30 Fair Isle Shetland 69 217 Fara Orkney 0 43 Faray Orkney 0 32 Fetlar Shetland 86 158 Fiaray Uists and Barra 0 30 Flodaigh Uists and Barra * 11 20 Flodaigh Mòr Uists and Barra 0 28 Flodday, Sound of Barra Uists and Barra 0 41 Flotta Orkney 81 58 Foula Shetland 31 418 Fuaigh Mòr (Vuia Mòr) Lewis and Harris 0 67 Fuday Uists and Barra 0 89 Fuiay Uists and Barra 0 107 Gairsay Orkney 3 102 Garbh Eileach Garvellachs 0 110 Garbh Eilean Shiant Islands 0 160 Garbh Eilean, Loch Maree (F) Loch Maree * 0 25 Gigha Islay 110 100 Gighay Uists and Barra 0 95 Glims Holm Orkney 0 32 Gometra Mull 5 155 Graemsay Orkney 21 62 Great Bernera Lewis and Harris 233 87 Great Cumbrae Firth of Clyde 1434 127 Grimsay Uists and Barra 201 22 Grimsay (South) Uists and Barra * 19 20 Gruinard Island Highland 0 106 Gunna Mull 0 35 Handa Highland 0 123 Hascosay Shetland 0 30 Hellisay Uists and Barra 0 79 Hermetray Uists and Barra 0 35 Hildasay Shetland 0 32 Hirta St Kilda 0 430 Holy Isle Firth of Clyde 13 314 Horse Island Summer Isles 0 60 Housay Out Skerries 50 53 Hoy Orkney 272 479 Hunda Orkney 0 41 Iona Mull 125 100 Inchcolm Firth of Forth * 2 34 Inchfad (F) Loch Lomond c.40 * 2 24 Inch Kenneth Mull 0 49 Inchlonaig (F) Loch Lomond * 0 62 Inchmarnock Firth of Clyde 0 60 Inchmurrin (F) Loch Lomond * 13 89 Inchtavannach (F) Loch Lomond * 3 84 Innis Chonan (F) Loch Awe * 1 62 Isay Skye 0 28 Islay Islay 3457 491 Isle Martin Summer Isles 0 120 Isle of Ewe Highland 12 72 Isle of May Firth of Forth 0 50 Isle Ristol Summer Isles * 0 71 Jura Islay 188 785 Kerrera Mull 42 189 Killegray Lewis and Harris 0 45 Kirkibost Uists and Barra 0 7 Lamba Shetland 0 35 Lamb Holm Orkney 0 20 Lewis and Harris Lewis and Harris 19918 799 Linga near Muckle Roe Shetland 0 69 Linga near Yell Shetland 0 26 Linga Holm Orkney 0 10 Lismore Mull 146 127 Little Bernera Lewis and Harris 0 41 Little Colonsay Mull 0 61 Little Cumbrae Firth of Clyde 0 123 Longa Island Highland 0 70 Longay Skye 0 67 Luing Slate Islands 212 94 Lunga Slate Islands 7 98 Lunga Treshnish Isles 0 103 Mainland, Orkney Orkney 15315 271 Mainland, Shetland Shetland 17550 450 Mealista Lewis and Harris 0 77 Mingulay Uists and Barra 0 273 Moncrieffe Island (F) River Tay * 3 5 Mousa Shetland 0 55 Muck Small Isles 30 137 Muckle Roe Shetland 104 267 Muldoanich Uists and Barra 0 153 Mull Mull 2667 966 North Rona Atlantic Outlier 0 108 North Ronaldsay Orkney 70 20 North Uist Uists and Barra 1271 347 Noss Shetland 0 181 Oldany Island Highland * 0 104 Oronsay Islay 5 93 Oronsay Uists and Barra 0 25 Oronsay Mull * 0 58 Oxna Shetland 0 38 Pabay Skye 0 28 Pabay Mòr Lewis and Harris 0 68 Pabbay Uists and Barra 0 171 Pabbay Lewis and Harris 0 196 Papa Shetland 0 32 Papa Little Shetland 0 82 Papa Stour Shetland 23 87 Papa Stronsay Orkney 10 13 Papa Westray Orkney 65 48 Priest Island Summer Isles 0 78 Raasay Skye 192 443 Ronay Uists and Barra 0 115 Rousay Orkney 212 250 Rùm Small Isles 22 812 Samphrey Shetland 0 29 Sanda Island Firth of Clyde 1 123 Sanday Orkney 478 65 Sanday Small Isles 6 59 Sandray Uists and Barra 0 207 Scalpay Skye 10 392 Scalpay Lewis and Harris 322 104 Scarba Islay 0 449 Scarp Lewis and Harris 0 308 Scotasay Lewis and Harris 0 57 Seaforth Island Lewis and Harris 0 217 Seil Slate Islands 560 146 Shapinsay Orkney 300 64 Shillay Lewis and Harris 0 79 Shuna Slate Islands 1 90 Shuna Loch Linnhe 0 71 Skye Skye 9232 993 Soay Skye 7 141 Soay St Kilda 0 378 Soay Mòr Lewis and Harris 0 37 South Havra Shetland 0 42 South Rona Skye 2 125 South Ronaldsay Orkney 854 118 South Uist Uists and Barra 1818 620 South Walls Orkney * 120 (est) 57 St Serf's Inch (F) Loch Leven * 0 110 Stockinish Island Lewis and Harris 0 44 Stroma Highland 0 53 Stronsay Orkney 343 44 Stuley Uists and Barra 0 40 Switha Orkney 0 29 Swona Orkney 0 41 Tahay Uists and Barra 0 65 Tanera Beag Summer Isles 0 83 Tanera Mòr Summer Isles 5 124 Taransay Lewis and Harris 0 267 Texa Islay 0 48 Tiree Mull 770 141 Torsa Slate Islands 0 62 Trondra Shetland 133 60 Ulva Mull 16 313 Unst Shetland 720 284 Uyea, Northmavine Shetland 0 70 Uyea, Unst Shetland 0 50 Vaila Shetland 2 95 Vacsay Lewis and Harris 0 34 Vallay Uists and Barra 0 38 Vatersay Uists and Barra 94 185 Vementry Shetland 0 90 West Burra Shetland 753 217 West Linga Shetland 0 52 Westray Orkney 563 169 Whalsay Shetland 1034 119 Wiay Skye 0 60 Wiay Uists and Barra 0 102 Wyre Orkney 18 32 Yell Shetland 957 205

Freshwater islands

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 in Loch Lomond is the largest freshwater island in the British Isles. It is in Loch Lomond, which contains over sixty other islands.

Smaller offshore islands

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

Sortable table
Name Island Group / Location
Bac Mòr Treshnish Isles
Bass Rock Firth of Forth
Belnahua Slate Islands
Bottle Island Summer Isles
Brough of Birsay Orkney
Cairn na Burgh Beag Treshnish Isles
Cairn na Burgh Mòr Treshnish Isles
Calf of Flotta Orkney Islands
Calvay Outer Hebrides
Campay Outer Hebrides
Castle Island Firth of Clyde
Cearstaidh Outer Hebrides
Clett Inner Hebrides
Clettack Skerry Pentland Skerries
Corn Holm Orkney Islands
Craigleith Firth of Forth
Craiglethy Fowlsheugh
Cramond Island Firth of Forth
Craro Inner Hebrides
Damsay Orkney Islands
Deasker North Uist
Dubh Artach Inner Hebrides
Dùn St Kilda
Dùn Channuill Garvellachs
East Linga Shetland Islands
Eilean Chathastail Inner Hebrides
Eilean Dubh Firth of Clyde
Eilean Dubh Summer Isles
Eilean Fladday Inner Hebrides
Eilean Mullagrach Summer Isles
Eilean Tigh Inner Hebrides
Eyebroughy Firth of Forth
Fidra Firth of Forth
Fish Holm Shetland Islands
Fladda Slate Islands
Fladda Treshnish Isles
Flodday near Vatersay Uists and Barra
Floddaybeg Outer Hebrides
Fodragay Outer Hebrides
Fuaigh Beag (Vuia Beg) Outer Hebrides
Garbh Sgeir Inner Hebrides
Gigalum Island Inner Hebrides
Gilsay Outer Hebrides
Glas-leac Beag Summer Isles
Glas-leac Mòr Summer Isles
Gloup Holm Shetland Islands
Glunimore Island Firth of Clyde
Groay Outer Hebrides
Grunay Out Skerries
Gruney Shetland Islands
Gualan Outer Hebrides
Haaf Gruney Shetland Islands
Harlosh Island Inner Hebrides
Haskeir Outer Hebrides
Haskeir Eagach Outer Hebrides
Hearnish Monach Islands
Helliar Holm Orkney Islands
Hestan Island Solway Firth
Holm of Faray Orkney Islands
Holm of Huip Orkney Islands
Holm of Papa Orkney Islands
Holm of Scockness Orkney Islands
Sortable table
Name Island Group / Location
Horse Island Small Isles
Horse Isle Firth of Clyde
Huney Shetland Islands
Inchgarvie Firth of Forth
Inchkeith Firth of Forth
Inchmickery Firth of Forth
Innis Mhòr Easter Ross
Kili Holm Orkney Islands
Lady's Holm Shetland Islands
Lady Isle Firth of Clyde
The Lamb Firth of Forth
Lingay near Harris Outer Hebrides
Lingay near North Uist Outer Hebrides
Little Linga Shetland Islands
Little Roe Shetland Islands
Little Skerry Pentland Skerries
Louther Skerry Pentland Skerries
Lunna Holm Shetland Islands
Mingay Inner Hebrides
Moul of Eswick Shetland Islands
Muckle Flugga Shetland Islands
Muckle Green Holm Orkney Islands
Muckle Ossa Shetland Islands
Muckle Skerry Pentland Skerries
Mugdrum Island Firth of Tay
Nave Island Islay
North Havra Shetland Islands
Oigh-Sgeir Inner Hebrides
Opsay Outer Hebrides
Orasaigh (many) Outer Hebrides
Orfasay Shetland Islands
Ornsay Inner Hebrides
Orsay Inner Hebrides
Out Stack Shetland Islands
Pladda Firth of Clyde
Rockall North Atlantic
Rough Solway Firth
Rusk Holm Orkney Islands
Rysa Little Orkney Islands
Scaravay Outer Hebrides
Sgat Mòr and Sgat Beag Firth of Clyde
Sheep Island Firth of Clyde
Shillay Monach Islands
Soay Beag Outer Hebrides
South Gruney Shetland Islands
South Isle of Gletness Shetland Islands
St Ninian's Isle Shetland Islands
Stac an Armin St Kilda
Stac Lee St Kilda
Staffa Inner Hebrides
Stockay Monach Islands
Stromay Outer Hebrides
Sula Sgeir Atlantic Ocean
Sule Skerry Atlantic Ocean
Sule Stack Atlantic Ocean
Sursay Outer Hebrides
Sweyn Holm Orkney Islands
Tarner Island Inner Hebrides
Trialabreck Outer Hebrides
Urie Lingey Shetland Islands
Uynarey Shetland Islands

Small archipelagos

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

Highest islands

Scotland's islands include thirteen Munros (mountains with a height over 3000 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). The following list is of all islands with a highest elevation greater than 300 metres (984 feet).

Sortable table
Rank Island Mountain Height (ft) Height (m)
1 Skye Sgurr Alasdair 3,258 993
2 Mull Ben More 3,169 966
3 Arran Goat Fell 2,867 874
4 Rùm Askival 2,664 812
5 Lewis and Harris Clisham 2,621 799
6 Jura Beinn an Òir 2,575 785
7 South Uist Beinn Mhòr 2,034 620
8 Islay Beinn Bheigier 1,610 491
9 Hoy Ward Hill 1,571 479
10 Shetland Mainland Ronas Hill 1,476 450
11 Scarba Cruach Scarba 1,473 449
12 Raasay Dùn Caan 1,453 443
13 Hirta Conachair 1,410 430
14 Foula The Sneug 1,371 418
15 Eigg An Sgurr 1,289 393
16 Scalpay, Inner Hebrides Mullach na Càrn 1,286 392
17 Boreray, St Kilda Mullach an Eilein 1,259 384
18 Barra Heaval 1,256 383
19 Soay, St Kilda Cnoc Glas 1,240 378
20 North Uist Eavel 1,138 347
21 Ailsa Craig The Cairn 1,108 338
22 Holy Isle Mullach Mòr 1,030 314
23 Ulva Beinn Creagach 1,026 313
24 Scarp Sròn Romul 1,010 308

Former islands

The following is a list of places which were formerly islands, but by some definitions are no longer so, due to silting up, natural processes and harbour building.

Bridged islands

Many of Scotland's islands are connected to the mainland and/or other islands by bridge or causeway. Although some people consider these to be no longer 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

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 (15-16 km) and a tunnel connecting Orkney Mainland to Shapinsay have been discussed, although little has come of it.

Shetland Islands

Several Shetland islands are joined to the Shetland Mainland:

There is also a bridge from Housay to Bruray.


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

Tidal islands and tombolos

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

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

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 away at low tide. In the 16th century, a large tidal wave was said to have washed the route away.

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.

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

Castle Islands

Ther 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 themselves are often tidal or bridged. Due to their picturesque nature some of them are well-known from postcards and films. Examples include:

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

Holy islands

A huge 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.

List of Scottish 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" or "isle" etc which are not islands

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

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".

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

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.

See also

References and footnotes

General references

External links

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Sortable table
Name Island group / location
Black Isle (An t-Eilean Dubh) Ross and Cromarty
Burntisland Fife
Gluss Isle Shetland
Isle of Harris (Na Hearadh) Outer Hebrides
Isle of Lewis (Eilean Leòdhais) Outer Hebrides
Isleornsay (Eilean Iarmain) Skye
Islesteps (south of Dumfries) Dumfries and Galloway
Isle of Whithorn Dumfries and Galloway