(Island of Stroma)

An uninhabited island in the Pentland Firth, the Island of Stroma lies between the north coast of Caithness and the Orkney Islands. It is separated from Caithness by the Inner Sound, it has an area of 375 ha (927 acres) and rises to 53m (174 feet) at Cairn Hill. Largely comprising Old Red Sandstone, the island is bisected north-south by a geological fault line. The ruins of Castle Mestag stand on Mell Head in the southwest and in the north there are the remains of an iron Age fort. Nethertown and Uppertown represent the former settlements, with lines of abandoned cottages, a derelict church, school and even the remains of a red telephone box. The isolated war memorial commemorates twelve islanders who lost their lives in the First and Second World Wars. The island's population fell from 341 in 1881 to just over 100 by 1949 and only 5 lighthouse keepers in 1981, the other residents having abandoned the island in the 1960s. Stroma Lighthouse at the north end of the island was automated in 1996, the lighthouse and pier having both been erected in the 1890s. In the northwest is a deep hollow in the rock known as The Gloup. Stroma is surrounded by turbulent seas with dangerous tidal races such as the Merry Men of Mey and The Swilkie.

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