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Eriskay - A Poem of Remote Lives (clip 1)

A study of Eriskay's crofting life

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A film made by Dr Kissling during a sailing holiday and summer spent on the island. Credits and rolling captions. A shot of the island, shrouded in mist, from Dr Kissling's yacht. Ashore, we have landscape shots over the island. Crofters cut hay with sickles; a sailing ship passes in the bay and sails up an inlet. Aboard the yacht as it approaches the island, we are watched by crofters from the cliff. We see a croft, and crofters, and then more landscape shots out over the bay, as crofters and their children walk a rugged path between the houses. A pony led by a crofter woman carries a load of dried peat to the house. Men take a pony up onto the moor to collect more cut peat. Older crofters stack the cut hay in stooks. There are shots of sheep and the hard landscape. Men herd the sheep into a stone pen and we see rams fighting and locking their horns. The sheep are then dipped and released.

Questions & Activities


  • Where is Eriskay?
  • What type of houses can you see?
  • Do you think the memory of Bonnie Prince Charlie was really this fresh?
  • Do you think the islanders are as content today?
  • Do you think the sound was recorded at the same time as the picture?


English: Discuss Romanticism and whether the tone of this film is Romantic. What are the elements that make up Romanticism? What evidence is there that that is how the people (as opposed to the narrator) feel this? Compare this film to the tone of other films about crofting in the collection like 'The Shepherds of Bernaray' and 'St Kilda - Britain's Loneliest Isle (clip 3)'. Which vision rings truer? In this context you may also want to discuss who this film was made for and where it would be shown.

Gaelic: Identify the song and discuss whether its content is appropriate to the film.

Geography: Discuss why people settled here, why they lived this way on the islands and what their lifestyles entailed. Were they living individually or communally? Where did their income come from? Studying this and other films about crofting in the collection like 'The Shepherds of Bernaray' and 'St Kilda - Britain's Loneliest Isle (clip 3)', try to construct a year planner for the life of a crofter.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-000-002-213-C
Resource Rights Holder National Library of Scotland
Project Ref 1701
Date 1935
Genre Documentary
School Subject English, Gaelic, Geography, History, Social Studies
Who Dr Werner Kissling (director)
Where Eriskay
Attributes Black and White, Sound
Clip Length 10:05
Film Length 19:00