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Scottish Islands



Scotland includes hundreds of islands. Over one hundred are inhabited now and many more have been inhabited in the past. The map below shows the main island groups in Scotland: Shetland, Orkney, the Outer Hebrides, the Inner Hebrides, and the Isles of Bute. Most Scottish offshore islands belong to one of these groups, but there are dozens more islands near the coast, in major rivers (such as the Forth, Clyde and Tay), in sea-lochs and in inland lochs.

Map of the five main Scottish island groups
Map showing main Scottish island groups

Because many historical records are arranged by parish and county, anyone researching a Scottish island needs to find out the parish and county an island belonged to prior to 1975. The SCAN Gazetteer contains information on over 400 islands, which are inhabited now or have been in the past, and includes many island name variations. To enter this
click here.


General Register Office for Scotland, Index of Scottish Place Names (HMSO, 1975) is now out of print, but has been replaced by Index of Scottish Place Names (HMSO, 1982). Francis H Groome, Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1885 and 1896 editions). The fullest geographical and historical guide to offshore islands is Hamish Haswell-Smith, The Scottish Islands (Edinburgh, 1999).


Frequently Asked Questions

To find out where an island is and which parish and county it belonged to, enter the Gazetteer by clicking here.

To find information about lighthouses go to the Knowledge Base entry on lighhouses by clicking here.