Puffins Mingulay Lying south west of the isle of Barra runs a small string of islands. Vatersay, Sanday, Pabbay, Mingulay and Berneray. Not large islands by any manner of means, but their position in the grand scheme of things, especially during the period of the many conflicts between Irish, Norse, and Scottish rivals all looking to, either establish, maintain, or expand their power base is not to be ignored.
The history of human involvement following archaeological results goes back 6000 years. Circa 620AD a church was established on Barra by St. Barr. Over the next 300 years the Vikings rampaged up and down the entire western seaboard of Scotland.
By 1030, the MacNeill were on Barra, and in the 13th century work started on Kisimul castle in Castle Bay on the south side of Barra.
The fortunes of the MacNeill seemed to have ebbed and flowed over subsequent centuries. In the 16th century, for a while the MacNeill resorted to piracy to supplement their income. Another bad move occurred when the MacNeill chose to support the Jacobite rebellion in 1715. From this time things deteriorated badly.
In 1745 the locals started emigrating to the New World. 1795 saw Kisimul castle gutted by fire. Around 1815 the kelp industry which up to that time had been quite profitable, collapsed and more people left. The potato famine in 1846 further reduced the population. In 1850, having purchased the estate from a bankrupt 41st chief of the clan, Col. John Gordon of Cluny castle set about removing some more of the dwindling population through a series of clearances.
In 1911, the remaining residents of Mingulay abandoned the island and sought refuge on Barra. Mingulay now accommodates a thriving community of seabirds, like, guillemot, kittiwake and puffin amongst others.