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Rona


(South Rona; Ronaigh)

An island of ancient Lewisian gneiss with an area of 930 ha (2298 acres) in the Inner Hebrides, Rona (also South Rona, to distinguish it from the Rona to the N of Lewis or Gael: Ronaigh) lies to the east of the island of Skye and to the north of Raasay from which it is separated by Kyle Rona. The Sound of Raasay lies to the west and the Inner Sound to the east. Uninhabited since the islanders were removed at the onset of World War II, the island had a permanent crofting population of 176 in 1881. Owned by the Macleods until 1843, Rona passed through several hands before being purchased by the government in 1922. It came back into private ownership in 1992. The population declined sharply when a permanent military garrison was withdrawn, declining from 49 (1961) to 3 (1971), 3 (1981) and was uninhabited in 1991. A permanent population returned, recorded as 2 (2001) and 3 (2011). The island rises to a height of 125m (410 feet) at Meall Acairseid, the ruins of the former main settlement Dry Harbour (Acairseid-thioram) lying due north on a bay of the same name. The other chief settlement on the island was at Doire na Guaile, close to an early church site at An Teampull. Before the island church was built in 1912 the people of Rona worshipped in the Church Cave.

A complex of buildings close to the lighthouse at the northern end of the island was once a NATO facility but now provides the operational control for the British Underwater Test and Evaluation Centre (BUTEC), a torpedo test range used by the Royal Navy. This facility is served by a pier on Loch a Bhraige.

Rona Lodge (1866), overlooking Big Harbour (Acairseid Mhor), is the island's only permanently inhabited residence. There is also exclusive tourist accommodation available in reconstructed buildings within the former settlements.


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