Isolated Islet in the North Atlantic      IOTA EU-189

Rockall is probably best known as a BBC weather area in the shipping forecasts. Here is a little more information on this remote islet far to the west of Scotland.

The ownership of Rockall is disputed. You may wonder why, but it is to do with the oil riches which may be under the  Rockall Shelf which surrounds it.



57 deg 36N, 13 deg 41W
230 miles west of Manish Point, North Uist, Scotland.
Rockall is the most isolated part of the British Isles.



70 feet high.
80 feet by 100 feet wide.
Rockall has one very small ridge known as Hall's Ledge.
Nearby is Hasselwood Rock which is just visible above sea level in calm conditions.



The rocks of Rockall are from the Tertiary era and are approximately 40 million years old. Rockall is composed of a soda-rich variety of granite. One dark variety of this rock has been named Rockallite.

First Landing and Ownership


The earliest recorded landing was in 1810 but the ownership of Rockall has been disputed for centuries with the Irish Republic, Denmark and Iceland making claims for it.

It was officially annexed by Britain in September 1955 when a landing was made by helicopter from the navy vessel HMS Vidal.  It became part of the United Kingdom in February 1972 when the Isle of Rockall Act was passed in the UK parliament.

In the 1980s, John Ridgeway, the Atlantic rower actually lived on the islet for nearly a month to confirm British ownership. It goes without saying that there are no permanent human inhabitants!

Also, Tom McClean briefly "lived" on Hall's Ledge and operated an amateur radio station.

In the summer of 1997 it was briefly occupied by Greenpeace activists who declared it the state of Waveland. They replaced the navigational beacon placed there by the UK government with a solar powered replacement.

Books and articles on Rockall


Book name






Rockall: the islet of birds


Picture Post  
March 1946






Geofrey Bles 1956

This is the definitive work on Rockall, now hard to find.



Rockall: Its Past and Future

A full electronic copy of the book is available at the bottom of this page as a .pdf attachment. By kind permission of the publishers.



James A.McIntosh

Hugh MacDonald Ltd,
Oban, Scotland 1946

Small 32 page book.



The Scottish Islands  Hamish
ISBN 0 86241 579 9

Good book on all the Scottish islands.



The Railways of Rockall
(that's what it says!)

F.W. Hampson & F.William

High Heaton. F.W. Hampson. 1990

ISBN:  0951669702

Your guess is as good as mine on this one! Hard to get a railway on THIS rock!



The Master
An Adventure Story (a novel)

T. H. White


Features two children who become stranded on Rockall where a mysterious sage is building a machine to take over the world.



Rockall sits on potentially vast oil reserves - one reason for the interest in its ownership in recent years. Rockall is also famous as a sea area in the BBC weather forecasts.



The image on the right was taken during the Greenpeace occupation in 1997. It shows a razorbill on Hall's Ledge.



Being really just a rocky crag surrounded by miles of ocean the wildlife is, to put things kindly, in short supply! There are no trees or bushes on the rock - just algae, seaweeds and one black litchen.  Only 6 species of animal have been recorded on Rockall. I'm not sure if any bird has successfully bred on the islet. The only possible nesting area is on Hall's Ledge, a narrow ledge high up on the side of Rockall which frequently suffers the full force of Atlantic gales and waves.  



Animal Type 

Latin Name 


 Birds seen on or around Rockall



A trematode



 Little tern

Leach's petrel Gannet



The rough periwinkle 




Storm-petrel Dunlin



A common amphipod Littorina rudis



Manx shearwater Arctic skua



An orange rotifer Hyale nilssoni



Tristan great shearwater Great skua



A common mite Hyadesia fusca



Sooty shearwater Pomarine skua



A common mite Ameronothrus



Lesser  black-backed gull Long-tailed skua



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Great black-backed gull White wagtail




Blackheaded gull Great auk (extinct)



Roger Lapthorn,
Jul 4, 2009, 1:35 PM