Brian Doucet

Urban Geographer

Stroma, Scotland

Stroma is a small island off the north coast of Caithness, just off the northern tip of the Scottish mainland. It is around 3.5 km long and 1.5 km wide; its highest point is less than 50m. The island is currently uninhabited. At one time, there were over 500 people living on the island. The population declined around the turn of the 20th Century. By the early 1960s, all the remaining families had left. There were many reasons for the decline, including the loss of the island's postal service and better opportunities on the mainland. Ironically, the building of the harbour after WWII accelerated the decline; it was the first time the men of the island were engaged in paid employment and many of them found it easier than the farming-based work which dominated Stroma. The houses remained in place, but the landscape is one of abandonment as the island has been uninhabited for more than half a century