The largest of the Small Isles in the Inner Hebrides, Rum (also Rhum) lies to the south of Skye between Canna to the northwest and Eigg to the southeast. It is a mountainous, diamond shaped island with an area of 10,463 ha (25,854 acres) and rises to 812m (2663 feet) at Askival in a range called the Cuillin. Predominately composed of Red Torridonian sandstone, the island is geologically unique because it includes the remains of a Tertiary volcanic complex, with its own type of gabbro (allivalite). Small areas of arable land exist near the settlements of Kilmory, Kinloch and Harris.
The island has been inhabited since 7000 BC and was held by the Norse until 1266. Later held by the Macleans, 300 of the islanders were persuaded to emigrate to Canada and the United States to make way for sheep farming in the 19th century. In 1888 Rum was purchased by John Bullough of Oswaldtwistle (1837-91), a Lancastrian textile machinery manufacturer and Member of Parliament, who used the island as a holiday retreat. His son, George Bullough (1870 - 1939) built Kinloch Castle on the east side of the island in 1901, a building famed for its Edwardian extravagance, which included central heating and a lavish conservatory. He was also responsible for a Greek style mausoleum at Harris on the southwestern coastline. Now managed by Scottish Natural Heritage, Rum was designated a National Nature Reserve in 1957 but its population had fallen to 40 by 1961, 40 (1971) and 17 (1981), rising slightly to 26 in 1991 and 22 (2001). The island is fringed with sea cliffs, but there are anchorages at Kilmory Bay, Loch Scresort and Camas na h-Atha. Sea eagles bred on the island until 1907 and were re-introduced from Norway in 1975.