Isle of May
The Isle of May is the largest and most easterly of the
islands in the Firth of Forth. It sits about 5 miles/8km southeast of Anstruther
and during the summer a 45 minute boat trip takes visitors to the island. Like
other islands in the Forth, the Isle of May is noted for its colony of seabirds,
including puffins, guillemots and razorbills; like Bass Rock, live images of the
birds on the island can be seen in the Scottish Seabird Centre in
Berwick, but the Isle of May also offers a bird observatory that can house up to
six people. As well as the seabirds, the island is also a breeding ground for
grey seals. The island was designated a National Nature Reserve in 1956
and is managed by Scottish Natural Heritage.
In 1636, Alexander Cunningham built a beacon on the island;
this was the first permanently manned lighthouse in Scotland. In 1816, Robert
Stevenson, the grandfather of Robert Louis Stevenson, built the new lighthouse;
this was manned until 1972 and became fully automated in 1989. Another small
lighthouse, known as the Low Light, was built; this was used from 1844
until it became redundant when the North Carr Lightship was established
in 1877; the buildings are now used as the bird observatory mentioned above.
Near the southern end of the Isle of May are the remains of
the 12th century St.Adrian’s Priory; this is believed to sit on the site of a
9th century chapel associated with St. Adrian who, along with his followers, was
killed on the island by Danes in 1875.
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