South Uist

South Uist (Scottish Gaelic: Uibhist a' Deas) is an island of the Outer Hebrides in Scotland. In the 2001 census it had a usually resident population of 1,951. The population of the island is mostly Catholic.

The west is machair (fertile low-lying coastal plain) with a continuous sandy beach whilst the east coast is mountainous with the peaks of Beinn Mhor 2033 ft (620 m) and Hecla 1988 ft (606 m). In the north west there is a missile testing range.

Attractions on the island include the Kildonan Museum housing the sixteenth century Clanranald Stone and the ruins of the house where Flora Macdonald was born.

The main village on the island is Lochboisdale, from which ferries sail to Oban on the mainland and to Castlebay on Barra. The island is also linked to Eriskay and Benbecula by causeways. Smaller settlements include Daliburgh and Ludag.


Nature Reserve

Loch Druidibeg in the north of the island is a National Nature Reserve owned and managed by Scottish Natural Heritage. The reserve covers 34.33 square kilometres of machair, bog, freshwater lochs and estuary. Over 200 species of flowering plants have been recorded on the reserve, some of which are nationally scarce. It is considered the best place in the UK for the aquatic plant Slender Naiad (Najas flexilis) which is a European Protected Species.

Nationally important populations of breeding waders are also present, including redshank, dunlin, lapwing and ringed plover. The reserve is also home to greylag geese on the loch and in summer corncrakes on the machair. Otters and hen harriers are also seen.

There has been considerable controversy over hedgehogs on South Uist. The animals are not native to the islands, having been introdued in the 1970s to reduce garden pests. They now pose a threat to the egss of ground nesting wading birds on the reserve. In 2003 Scottish Natural Heritage undertook a cull of hedgehogs in the area.


The archaeological site of Cladh Hallan, the only site in Great Britain where prehistoric mummies have been found, is on South Uist.

Missile testing

In the north west of the island, a missile testing range was built in 1957-58 to launch the Corporal missile, Britain and America's first guided nuclear weapon. This development went ahead despite significant protests, some locals expressing concern that the Scottish Gaelic language would not survive the influx of English-speaking army personnel. The British Government claimed that there was an 'overiding national interest' in establishing a training range for their newly purchased Corporal, a weapon that was to be at the front line of Cold War defence. The Corporal missile was tested from 1959 to 1963, before giving way to Sergeant and Lance tactical nuclear missiles. The 'rocket range' as it is known locally has also been used to test high altitude research rockets, Skua (rocket) and Petrel (rocket), which despite their purpotedly scientific remit, were operated by the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment in Aldermaston.

Long after the Cold War has ended, the range is still used by regiments of the Royal Artillery for training with the surface-to-air Rapier missile.


Missing image
The flag of South Uist

The flags of South Uist and Barra are very similar - they are both white Nordic Crosses on a green field.

South Uist differs from Barra in its use of a blue ‘inner’ Nordic Cross. The flag is very similar to the flag of Norway – many of the people of the Hebrides originate from the Norway of the ninth and tenth centuries.

Next to Barra, South Uist is the southernmost use of the Nordic Cross in the British Isles. Other flags based on this design in the United Kingdom are Orkney and Shetland.

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