St Ninian's Isle, Bigton

4.5
#4 of 6 in Parks in Shetland Islands
St Ninian's Isle is a small tied island connected by the largest tombolo in the UK to the south-western coast of the Mainland, Shetland, in Scotland. It is part of the civil parish of Dunrossness on the South Mainland. 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, also in the parish of Dunrossness. 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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  • A short drive to St. Ninian was the first thing we did on this cruise visit to the Shetland islands. We stopped at what looked like a rural agricultural area and viewed the beach connecting St. Ninian...  more »
  • We drove to the isle (parking is great) and wandered along the beach searching for sea glass and sea pottery, finding a couple of really lovely pieces to bring home as a reminder of our trip. It's a r...  more »
  • We came to this spot during our recent trip to Shetland and I did not know that the spit of land linking the two islands was called a tombolo but it is. However the afternoon we were here was the end ...  more »

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