There are numerous uninhabited islands around the world. Some of these islands are unlivable due to its remote location, while some remain unspoiled for environmental reasons. But there is one place with a very dark and mysterious history that no one would dare set foot on it.

Gruinard Island is a tiny land mass located approximately 0.6 kilometers away from northwest Scotland.


During World War II, the British feared of a chemical attack. So they decided to test their own chemical weapon called anthrax, in case a chemical war would break. In 1942, this peaceful-looking island became the site of a biological warfare test by British forces. The Gruinard Island was soon surveyed and requisitioned from its owners by the British Government.


Researchers brought in 80 sheep and carried out the test using the most damaging anthrax strain named Vollum 14578.

Days later, all the sheep exposed to the deadly chemical began to die of infection.

Gruinard Island 3

According to scientists, a large release of anthrax spores could not only eliminate the entire population of Germany but also render them uninhabitable for several decades.


When the war ended in 1945, the original owner wanted to buy the island back, but the government said that it was too contaminated. The island must be cleaned up and declared safe first before being inhabited by man and animals.


However it was too dangerous and expensive to undergo a large-scale decontamination. So the island was quarantined indefinitely and closed for public access for more than 50 years.


But by 1981,  a militant group of microbiologists from two universities embarked on a mission called “Operation Dark Harvest” to demand from the government the immediate decontamination of the island. They stole 300 pounds of soil from the island and placed them in government facilities like Porton Down (a military science park) and Blackpool, forcing them to restore Gruinard Island.


Gruinard Island was decontaminated for four years and was declared anthrax-free on April 24, 1990, almost 50 years after its initial quarantine. Heirs of the first owner were able to purchase the island back for its original sale price of 500 British pounds on May 1, 1990.


However, an archaeologist named Dr. Brian Moffat is not convinced that the island is completely anthrax-free and inhabitable due to the bacterium’s high resiliency. He said, “I would not go walking on Gruinard.”

Do you think Gruinard Island is really safe for public access? Share your thoughts below.

Via: Boredom Therapy