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St Ninian's Isle, Bigton

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Island Nature / Park
St Ninian's Isle is a small tied island connected by the largest active tombolo in the UK to the south-western coast of the Mainland, Shetland, in Scotland. The tombolo, known locally as an ayre from the Old Norse for "gravel bank", is 500 metres long. During the summer the tombolo is above sea level and accessible to walkers. During winter, stronger wave action removes sand from the beach so that it is usually covered at high tide, and occasionally throughout the tidal cycle, until the sand is returned the following spring. Depending on the definition used, St. Ninian's is thus either an island, or a peninsula; it has an area of about 72 hectares. The nearest settlement is Bigton on South Mainland. The important early medieval St Ninian's Isle Treasure of metalwork, mostly in silver, was discovered under the church floor in 1958. Many seabirds, including puffins, visit the island, with several species nesting there.HistoryAs its name suggests, the island has ecclesiastical connections, which may like others in the Northern Isles, Hebrides and Faroes have connections to the Culdees or papar. However, the island's history is far older than Christianity, and Neolithic graves have been found within the walls of the chapel (formerly beneath the floor).
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  • Lovely place for a walk- the island is accessed over a gorgeous beach and there is an excellent walking path around the perimeter with great views all around. Go on a clear day if you can! Best walk w...  more »
  • Lovely isolated spot. Looking down to the island and seeing the "bridge of sand" from the mainland to the island was most picturesque.  more »
  • Although there is not much on the island itself, the tombolo (the largest in the UK) is well worth a visit and the views from the island are amazing.  more »