South Ronaldsay

The southernmost island of the Orkney Island group, South Ronaldsay is linked to Mainland Orkney via Burray by the Churchill Barriers which were constructed during the Second World War to protect Scapa Flow from German submarines. Rising to a height of 118m (387 feet) at Ward Hill, the island has an area of 4980 ha (12,306 acres), most of which is given over to the production of beef, dairy cattle, sheep, pigs and goats. The principal settlement is St. Margaret's Hope where there was once a chapel dedicated to St. Margaret, Malcolm Canmore's Queen. It was off the coast of South Ronaldsay that the Longhope Lifeboat was lost in March 1969 with the loss of all on board. Each year in August the Sand o' Right in Widewall Bay is the scene of a unique 'tidal' Ploughing Match involving boys under 15 years old using miniature ploughs. The population of South Ronaldsay fell from 2557 in 1881 to 776 in 1971, but has stabilised in more recent years; 891 (1981), 943 (1991), 854 (2001) and 909 (2011). Most of the islanders are engaging in farming, fishing, boat building, knitwear production and crafts such as pottery and gold and silversmithing. Some are also employed in the oil industry on the neighbouring island of Flotta, the oil pipeline from the North Sea to the Flotta oil terminal passing through the north end of the island.

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