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News & Editorial

Eigg

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Photograph: 'Laig beach' with An Sgùrr in the background: © John Little, Flickr.
The only peak on Eigg (393M) is on An Sgùrr, the largest pitchstone ridge in Europe. Pitchstone is a dull black glassy volcanic rock formed when lava or magma cools quickly. The Isle of Eigg is not without its own gruesome history.

Inhabited since at least the Neolithic period, Eigg is an Inner Hebridean island, 10 miles off the north-west coast of Scotland, south of the Isle of Skye. Five by three miles in size, Eigg is one of the Small Isles: the others are Canna, Muck and Rum. Eigg now has a population of around 100. Residents include basket producers, laceware makers, musicians, farmers, builders, brewers, artists, photographers, bike and canoe rentals, rangers, museum staff, a taxi driver, a TV producer and a graphic designer who doubles as a drone pilot. The main drivers of the economy are the creative industries, tourism, agriculture, construction, eco-management, public enterprises and social services. There are twenty young people on the island, some of pre-school age and others in primary and secondary education.

Eigg,was sold nine times under private ownership. Its penultimate laird Keith Schellenberg threatened some islanders with eviction, then sold Eigg to the German artist Marling Eckhard-Maruma for £1.6m in 1995. Maruma sold off the island’s cattle, before taking out loans against the island in Liechtenstein and Hong Kong. Eigg became a pawn in a game of international land speculation. The Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust – a partnership between the residents of Eigg, Highland Council and the Scottish Wildlife Trust - purchased the island for £1.5 million from its absentee owner in 1997. The lottery-financed Heritage Memorial Fund had refused to help finance a community buy-out, yet managed to find £13million to retrieve the Churchill family papers.

'How an island dream became a reality' - article by Lesley Riddoch.

The island boasts its own microbrewery, record label, music festival, community broadband network, a building co-operative and two museums.
Laig Bay Brewing Company
Lost Map record label
Howling Wind music festival. This year's festival is sold out.

Eiggers are also celebrating nine years of producing 100% of their electricity via the first stand-alone grid in the world powered by a mixture of renewable schemes. Eigg Electric is a blend of energy from a photovoltaic array of solar panels, micro-hydro and wind turbines. All cables run underground; no pylons spoil the island's natural beauty. Renewable energy - 2010 article in the Guardian.

Pronounced Ekie, Eigg is accessible by ferry from Mallaig and Arisaig. Holidays on Britain’s most eco-friendly island
Scottish Wildlife Trust. The Isle of Eigg – the season so far

Eigg Box is a new space for artists to make and do creative work. The newly built eco-workspace on Eigg will bring together local island creative businesses with artists from around the world. Established as a self-sustaining social enterprise, Eigg Box will be a powerhouse of creative activity, entrepreneurship, inspiration and collaboration. Eigg Box turns on its head the notion that a centre of entrepreneurship and creativity needs to be at the centre of population. Eiggbox makes the remote central.

'Resident buy-out a step closer with application for £4.25m purchase of Isle of Ulva validated' - Craig Cairns