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Rum


(Rým, Rhum)

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. Predominantly 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. Geologist Hugh Miller (1802-56) visited in 1844 and was disturbed both by the clearance of the people and that the sheep-farm which replaced them was bankrupt. The island was sold to the Marquess of Salisbury the following year, to become a sporting estate. He re-introduced red deer, which had died out by the end of the 18th C, and created a network of small lochs to encourage salmon into the rivers. 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) constructed 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. Bullough re-established the stud for Rum ponies, a unique bloodline of Highland Pony, which he used to remove deer carcasses from the hill. He was also responsible for a Greek style mausoleum at Harris on the southwestern coastline. In 1957 Rum was sold to the Nature Conservancy, a government agency, for £23,000 and is now managed by Scottish Natural Heritage. The same year the island was designated a National Nature Reserve but its permanent population had fallen to 40 by 1961, 40 (1971) and 17 (1981), rising slightly to 26 in 1991, 22 (2001) and 22 (2011). A ferry connects Mallaig on the mainland with Rum, Canna, Eigg and Muck, although only passengers and permitted vehicles may land. The island is fringed with sea cliffs, but there are anchorages at Loch Scresort, Kilmory Bay and Camas na h-Atha. Sea eagles bred on the island until 1907 and were re-introduced from Norway in 1975. Community development was given a boost following the creation of the Isle of Rum Community Trust in 2008 and the transfer of some land and buildings around Kinloch to the Trust in 2010. The short-lived reality TV series Escape from Experiment Island (2003) was filmed here, while the island and Kinloch Castle were explored by historian and television presenter Paul Murton during his Grand Tours of the Scottish Islands for the BBC in 2013.


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