The Isle of Taransay History from 300AD.
Taransay is located in the Outer Hebrides and is made up of two islands connected together by an isthmus of sand. If you want to visit Taransay, you will have to do so in a smaller boat because there are no harbours where large ferries can land. This island has been inhabited since about 300 A.D., when it was home to Celtic pagans. Their descendants converted to Christianity in the 700’s and in the 900’s this island was taken over by the Norse Vikings. Throughout history it has been the site of fierce battles, such as in the Massacre of Taransay in 1544, when the Morrisons of Lewis invaded. However, this act did not go unpunished as the people from the island of Berneray forced the invaders to a rock, where they were executed. This rock is now known as Sgeir Bhuailte – Smitten Rock.
At one time there were three villages on Taransay, but the population gradually decreased until there was only one family still living here – the MacRae’s of the village of Paible. They left the island to live on the mainland in 1961. From then on the island was mainly a place for sheep to graze. It was the filming of the movie Castaway in 2000 that brought Taransay into the limelight. When the show ended in 2001, the buildings were left intact and the island became a very popular tourist destination.
The filming of Castaway on Taransay featured a group of 36 people, handpicked from over 4000 volunteers, who were marooned on the island. 29 of these volunteers lived on the island for a year in temporary shelters, called pods, which were built in the former village of Paible. The intention of this show was to demonstrate how a group of people could form a community. The show was broadcast to many countries of Europe and was a resounding success, with about 9 million viewers.
The entire island is a working farm and along with the stunning scenery, visitors here can also visit historic sites. At one time there were two chapels on the island. Both are long gone, but you can still see the remains of Saint Keith’s chapel. Taransay is a birdwatcher’s paradise, but the only wildlife on the island is red deer. It is really a beautiful location because of the blooming wildflowers and plant life that grows wild.
Stroll around the island and imagine what it must have been like to live here with no modern facilities such as electricity and indoor plumbing. Spend some time alone with your thoughts as you gaze out to see. If you like walking and enjoying the beauties of nature, then this is one vacation that you will remember for a long time. The Mackay House and the School Chalet are original buildings on the island that were renovated for the filming of the movie. These are now available as tourist accommodations.