The Flannan Isles, located in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, are a set of small and uninhabited rocky islands with a curious history. One of the islands, Eilean Mor, was the setting of a great historical mystery – the disappearance of three lighthouse keepers in 1900. To this day, a concrete explanation for the strange event remains elusive.
The Setting: The Lighthouse and Island of Eilean Mor
Since the automation of the lighthouse in 1971, the Flannan Isles have been without permanent residents. The Isles get their name from a 7th century Irish saint of the same name who is said to have built a stone church (one of the few man-made structures still found today) on the island of Eilean Mor. The Flannan Isles are located 32 km (20 miles) from their closest neighbor, the Isle of Lewis.
Steeped in fantastical tales of hauntings, Eilean Mor (meaning Big Isle) is the largest of the Flannan islands, despite its modest size of 17.5 acres (7.1 hectares). The first and most populous inhabitation of the island is from the days of St. Flannan and his followers of the Celtic church. Shortly after they abandoned the island, it received a long-standing reputation as an unlucky place full of dangerous spirits. The superstitious tales of Eilean Mor involve beings such as giant birds and little men, as well as the haunting the St. Flannan and his “flock.” The stories were enough to keep shepherds (not to mention most other people), from spending the night there.