Size: 36.23 hectares

% of total area of SSSI's: 8.92%

Designated features: Heathland, Orange Birds-foot & other flowering plants

General Description

8 small islands and numerous adjacent islets and rocks form the Eastern Isles, immediately to the south-east of St Martin’s.  The largest, Great Gannilly is the most diverse with 74 out of the 111 wild flower species recorded for the whole of the island group, with small areas of maritime heathland, that support the nationally rare Orange Bird’s foot and small pockets of maritime grassland with frequent Thrift, Rock Sea-spurrey and Scurvy-grass.  Within the more scrubby habitats found on the Arthurs, the nationally rare Balm-leaved Figwort and White Ramping Fumitory can be found along with Shore Dock nestled in crevices where freshwater seeps into the soils.  Here you can also find the rare lichen Gyalecta jenensis var. macrospora with its tangerine coloured fruits.  Great Gannilly is also home to one of the largest breeding colonies of Atlantic Grey Seal around the archipelago.  The Eastern Isles also provide secluded habitat for 8 breeding seabird species including; Razorbill, Cormorant, Fulmar and Puffin.  The islands are important for their archaeology; including prehistoric settlements and a Roman religious shrine on Nornour, prehistoric hut circles and field systems on Great Gannilly and Neolithic and Bronze Age Funerary and platform Cairns.

Practical Management

Ongoing management of the important archaeological sites on these islands, which are a focal point for visitors, is of great importance.  Keeping them clear of encroaching invasive species such as Bracken, Gorse and in some instances Bramble and Honeysuckle (all of which can damage these monuments through their roots undermining the construction), ensures that people can gain an insight into the long-standing use of the islands by man.  Focusing on these special places and maintaining the paths to and between them, ensures that a visit to these islands minimises disturbance to our breeding Atlantic Grey Seal and seabirds, as you are directed away from the most important areas for these species.