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Management of Isolated Islands: The example of Sceilg Mhichíl, Ireland

Edward Bourke

Cite this as: Bourke, E. 2020 Management of Isolated Islands: The example of Sceilg Mhichíl, Ireland, Internet Archaeology 54. https://doi.org/10.11141/ia.54.14

Summary

The island of Skellig Michael (in Irish, Sceilg Mhichíl) lies 11.6km off the westernmost tip of the Iveragh peninsula, Co. Kerry, Ireland. The island is approximately 21.9 hectares in area. It is owned by the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht on behalf of the Irish people, with the exception of the lower (working) lighthouse and its curtilage, the helipad and adjacent store. Skellig Michael is primarily managed as a National Monument in state ownership. The entire island was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1996 in recognition of the outstanding universal significance of its cultural landscape and the importance of its protection to the highest international standards. As well as the World Heritage Site, the rocks are home to gannets, puffins, storm petrels and many other birds. Owing to its ornithological importance, Skellig Michael is also designated as a Statutory Nature Reserve and a Special Protection Area, and is a proposed Natural Heritage Area. As an Atlantic island situated a significant distance from the mainland, the management of the site, in terms of protection, conservation and providing a guide service, comes with many unusual and unique challenges.

General view of Skellig Michael rising out of the sea
General view of Skellig Michael © National Monuments Service, Dept. of Culture, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht
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  • Keywords: Skellig Michael, Sceilg Mhichíl, World Heritage Site, archaeology, island, management
  • Accepted: 1 November 2019. Published: 28 February 2020
  • The publication of this article is funded by the European Archaeological Council.

Corresponding author: Edward Bourke
edward.bourke@chg.gov.ie
National Monuments Service, Department of Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht, Ireland

Full text

Figure 1: General view of Skellig Michael © National Monuments Service, Dept. of Culture, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht

Figure 2: The main monastery on Skellig Michael © National Monuments Service, Dept. of Culture, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht

Figure 3: The South Peak on Skellig Michael © National Monuments Service, Dept. of Culture, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht

Figure 4: Staff accommodation on the Skellig Michael © National Monuments Service, Dept. of Culture, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht

Figure 5: Eastern end of the monastic enclosure showing various phases of collapse and the intervention into the middle entrance © National Monuments Service, Dept. of Culture, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht

Figure 6: LiDAR-based image of Skellig Michael © National Monuments Service, Dept. of Culture, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht

Bourke, E., Hayden A. R., Lynch A. 2011 Skellig Michael C. Kerry: The monastery and South Peak – Archaeological stratigraphic report: excavations 1986-2010, http://www.worldheritageireland.ie/fileadmin/user_upload/documents/SkelligMichaelExcavations_07Feb.pdf

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