Have you ever travelled by boat to visit an island? Or maybe you live on an island? There are over 900 islands around the coast of Scotland, but most of them are uninhabited.
This activity explores different kinds of islands — an island with hidden treasure, an imaginary island from Celtic mythology, and a real island off the coast of Scotland.
Islands can be mysterious and magical places, full of adventure, and maybe even hidden treasure! The Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a famous adventure book called Treasure Island. The idea for the story came from a treasure map which he drew for his stepson Lloyd when they were on holiday together.
This map has appeared in every copy of the Treasure Island Book. Can you see where the treasure is buried? (PDF of map: 746 KB; 1 page) The Library looks after the original printing plate used to make this map.
Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburgh, but he spent the last four years of his life on the island of Upolu, Samoa, on the other side of the world.
Listen to a story
Now it's time to listen to a story from Jan Bee Brown about Sinbad the Sailor. He discovers an island that isn't quite what it seems … and he also finds some unexpected treasure along the way!
Follow these easy steps to make your own treasure map in the shape of a whale. Can you think of some names for the different parts of the island? Think back to the story to get some ideas!
All the details you need are in the treasure map instructions PDF (758 KB KB; 1 page).
In Scottish and Celtic mythology, there are sometimes mysterious 'floating', or vanishing, islands which appear and then disappear. On Orkney, some people say that the mysterious Finfolk live on a floating island called Hildaland during the summer, and an undersea kingdom in the winter.
The next story is about a mythical island called Tir Na Nog, a place where no one ever grows old.
Look for words from the two stories that you've listened to about Sinbad the Sailor, and the journey of Oisin to Tir Na Nog:
- Wordsearch PDF (195 KB; 1 page)
St Kilda is the name of a group of four islands — Hirta, Dun, Soay, and Borerary — in the Outer Hebrides. Can you find St Kilda on a map? There were people living on St Kilda from Prehistoric times. Archaeologists have found objects on the islands dating back many thousands of years.
The last group of 36 people left on 29 August 1930. They asked to be taken off St Kilda as their way of life had become very difficult, and they felt cut off from the rest of the world. Today, no one lives on the islands, but the remains of the houses and village can still be seen on Hirta.
MacKinnon Collection of photographs
This rare film, made just over 100 years ago, shows people getting ready to leave St Kilda
- 'Evacuation of St Kilda' (1930; silent film; 11 minutes).
Learn more about the history of St Kilda on the National Trust for Scotland website
This film explores the history and wildlife of St Kilda (Moving Image Archive).
Discover more about the legends of Hildaland and the Finfolk of Orkney on the Orkneyjar website.
You might like to read the stories of Katie Morag, written and illustrated by Mairi Hedderwick. These books tell of the daily life of Katie, a young girl who lives on an island off the west coast of Scotland.
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