1. Chasing A Rock

A Lonely Isle
1. Chasing A Rock

Rockall is a remote speck of land in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. In 1811, a landing party from HMS Endymion became the first people to scramble up its surface. 



BASIL HALL: In a fine autumnal morning, just a week after we had sailed from Lough Swilly, a sail was reported on the leebeam. We bore up instantly, but no one could make out what the chase was, nor which way she was standing.

The general opinion was that it must be a brig with very white sails aloft, while those below were quite dark – as if the royals were made of cotton and the courses of tarpaulin – a strange anomaly in seamanship, it is true, but still the best theory we could form to explain the appearance.

A short time served to dispel these fancies; for we discovered, on running close to our mysterious vessel, that we had actually been chasing a rock – not a ship of oak and iron, but a solid block of granite, growing, as it were, out of the sea, at a greater distance from the mainland than, I believe, any other island.

Its name is Rockall.

NARRATOR: In 1811 Basil Hall and a landing party from HMS Endymion became the first people to scramble up Rockall’s jagged surface. 290 miles west of Scotland, nearly lost in the fog, they made a quiet sort of history.

BASIL HALL: This mere speck on the surface of the waters – for it seems to float on the sea – is only seventy feet high, and not more than a hundred yards in circumference.

The smallest point of a pencil could scarcely give it a place on any map, which should not exaggerate its proportions to the rest of the islands in that stormy ocean



Ann Scantlebury
Audio producer and director

Matt Addis
Voice actor

Matthew Sheret
Writer and narrator

Richard J. Birkin
Composer and creative director

Time Travel Opps
Digital production

Reverend Spotswood-Green
Original Painting

Joe Caithness
Mastering (Soundtrack)


A Lonely Isle is a collection of anecdotes about Rockall, a remote island in the Atlantic ocean. Each chapter is based on accounts written by visitors over the last two hundred years. 

The project came together by a process of dead reckoningResearched in 2012, written in 2014, recorded in 2015, scored in 2017, and published in 2018, it’s a product of guessing and sun-sights, serendipity and cumulative error.

Original Soundtrack

The Last Outpost of Empire (music for A Lonely Isle)
by Richard J. Birkin

Listen/Buy on Bandcamp