Bass Rock-A Tiny Scottish Island With a Giant Personality

Hello, my friends. How are you guys today? I’ve missed you. I have been away on holiday with Mr. C and his parents, off the grid, and making memories. I’m excited to catch up on all the things you’ve been up to and eager to share some of the best moments from our trip. For today, though, I’d like to show you a tiny island located in the outer part of Scotland’s Firth of Forth. This island is called Bass Rock, and it is a beast of a thing!

A white lighthouse sitting on Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth.
A Google Maps image of the Firth of Forth off Scotland's coast.

Rising to a height of more than 300 ft., the rocky island is a steep-sided volcanic plug that dates to the Carboniferous Age – arising a whopping 300+ million years ago. From a distance, the rock surface can appear white, almost as if covered in a dusting of snow. That is because of the presence of the world’s largest colony of Northern gannets. In fact, in the peak of their nesting season, it is estimated that more than 150,000 of these sea birds call Bass Rock home!

A white bird flying in front of a big rock.
Hundreds of white birds on a big white rock.
Gannets galore.

In addition to being an important avian conservation spot, Bass Rock also played an interesting part in Scotland’s history. The island is associated with St. Baldred, a hermit and evangelist who spread Christianity to the people living in the Lothians during the sixth century. The abbot eventually chose this uninhabited rock as his place of refuge and lived out the remainder of his life there as a hermit. Following his death around 756, a chapel was built on the site of his cell. A second chapel was constructed in the mid-1500s, and the ruins are still visible today.

Bass Rock features in various works of fiction, including Catriona written by Robert Louis Stevenson.

A white lighthouse on a giant rock.
The ruined chapel.  It gives you perspective on just how big this bad boy really is!

The earliest recorded proprietors of Bass Rock were the Lauder family, and incredibly, they held onto this possession for several hundred years. They likely built the castle, the ruins of which are visible below the chapel and dominated by a 20th-century lighthouse. From the 1500s through the 1600s, Tantallon served as a fortress and as a prison during the time of the Covenanters and the Jacobites. The island was also a strategic stronghold during the Scottish and English Wars.

A white lighthouse sitting on a giant rock in the sea.
The castle later became a prison.  The lighthouse was erected in the 20th century.
Tantallon Castle and Bass Rock in the distance.
Bass Rock as viewed from Tantallon Castle.
Tantallon Castle and Bass Rock in the distance.
Bass Rock from Tantallon Castle.

Today this tiny island with the giant personality belongs to the Hamilton-Dalrymple family, who acquired the massive rock in the 1700s.  Can you imagine owning such a thing? I certainly cannot!

Friends, if you’re ever in Edinburgh or the vicinity, it’s worth making the 30ish miles east to see this amazing “tiny” island. I think you’ll be just as impressed with it as I was.

Take care, and I’ll see you again soon!



*Gannet photos courtesy of Pixabay

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