THE Isle of Rum, more correctly Rùm, has been in the news this week as the islanders have appealed for more people to come and live in four new houses that are being built in the hamlet of Kinloch.

They would particularly like to see young families with children as the island’s school has just two pupils.

Steve Robertson, of Isle of Rum Community Trust (IRCT), said more people were needed to make island life sustainable.

He said: “To grow the community, to give it resilience, to deal with the challenges and issues of running an off-grid community, off-grid water and off-grid hydro-electric, we need more people, we need more kids in the school. Everything is stressed by the fact that there is not enough people.”

There are some 32 people living on Rum which is the largest in the area of the Small Isles of the Inner Hebrides, the three main others being Canna, Eigg and Muck.


IT’S Rùm, usually just written as Rum, and the name has nothing to do with the alcoholic drink of that name. For most of the 20th century the island was known as Rhum because one of the owners, Sir George Bullough, did not fancy being known as the Laird of Rum.

In 1991, the Nature Conservancy Council which had been sold the island by the Bulloughs, decreed with some finality that it would be known as Rum and that is the name used by the local people now.

Now owned and managed by Scottish National Heritage (SNH), many of the residents’ work for the agency and there is a thriving Isle of Rum Community Trust (IRCT).


DUE to depopulation in the early 19th century and decades of lack of tourism, Rum is largely unspoilt and as the 15th largest island in Scotland it has a plethora of scenic beauty that is entirely natural. It is over 100 square kilometres in area and its mountains rise to well over 2000 feet, with Askival the highest at 2664 ft.

The entirety of Rum is a national nature reserve and its population of red deer is under constant study. It is home to one of the world’s largest colonies of Manx Shearwater and is designated as a special protection area because of the seabird population that includes re-introduced white-tailed sea-eagles. Golden eagles and red-throated divers are also found on Rum. Other than birds, deer and a few humans, Rum is deserted.

The people of the island are committed to trying to make Rum sustainable and that will mean more people and facilities.

IRCT say: “The Rum community is a small, vibrant group of people with the shared vision of making the Isle of Rum a real jewel of the Hebrides; dynamic and ready to embrace the future. The Isle of Rum Community Trust relies on community volunteers so development can be slow, but in a short time the community trust has created and allocated three bare land crofts, and has a rolling programme of property maintenance and improvements. We have established a housing plots and allocations policy and are in the process of developing a new local plan which will enable new houses to be built.”


RUM deserves to be better known for its remarkable history that dates back to around 8000BC with remains showing the presence of hunter-gatherers over the next millennia. Evidence has been found of human agriculture taking place around 3500BC and there are a number of prehistoric remains of forts at several places on Rum.

Converted to Christianity by monks from Iona from around 600AD, Rum became a centre of the Norse kingdom of the Hebrides from the 9th century until Somerled created his own kingdom of the Isles in the mid-12th century.

The Treaty of Perth in 1266 gained control of the Isles for the kingdom of Scotland, though it was part of the MacRory lands of the Garmoran, a crown dependency. In 1826, the island suffered one of the most devastating of all of the clearances. Some 300 islanders were evicted aboard two ships that took them to Cape Breton in Nova Scotia. The National’s Lesley Riddoch chaired a task group which founded the IRCT in 2008.