A History Of Pabay

The island of Pabay (57 16N 05 51.5W and NGR 675270) is located 2.5 miles from the village of Broadford on the South side of the Isle of Skye. It is 360 acres in size, diamond shaped and predominately flat, the highest point being 28m above sea level with cliffs on the North and East shores.

Isle of Pabay,
as seen from the air. In the background is Skye.

Panoramic Pabay View

Pabay consists of heath, dry grassland, herb marsh, salt marsh, woodland remnants and 75 acres of newly planted deciduous and coniferous trees, containing 17 different species. There are 32 different species of wild flowers, 49 different herbs, 40 different grasses, sedges, ferns and rushes. There are also numerous resident otters, seals, 32 breeding bird species and 72 non-breeding birds. There is also a large rabbit population and shrews have been seen.


[Very] Early History
Philatelic History
St. Maree
Victorian View
Archaeology of Pabay

Pabay is known world wide for its unique geology consisting of fossils, Pabba shale and other features. The shoreline at low tide almost doubles the area of the island revealing many interesting features.

Due to the inaccessibility of the island it has escaped the impact of modern farming methods. A fully modernized home with its own electricity supply (both diesel and wind power) is located on the South side of the island together with numerous farm buildings. Access to the island can only be made by boat or helicopter.

The name Pabay is derived from an old Norse word (the Norwegians ruled this part of Scotland for many years around 1000AD) meaning "priest's isle" and there are the remains of a 13th century chapel. In the past the island was completely wooded and the tree planting scheme now underway will return Pabay to its original sylvan state.

Geology of Pabay (from notes by Stephen Hesslbo, noted geologiest, August 1991)

Pabay was described by Hugh Miller, the early Victorian and missionary as "the only piece of flat, level England in the entire landscape" (of Skye). The island gives its name to a group of Jurassic Sedimentary rocks which are seen across the Inner Hebredian area-Pabba Shales. These were laid down at the bottom of a muddy sea 190 million years ago. Much later (about 60 million years ago) volcanicity associated with the opening of the Atlantic Ocean led to the intrusion of molten rock along fractures running NNW-SSE across the island. The resulting dykes now stand proud as solid sheets resembling well built masonry and protecting the island from further erosion.

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