Staffa lies six miles north east of Iona. Sir Joseph Banks gave the desolate isle some prominence when he wrote about the basalt columns (or staves) and the large sea cavern, which he called ‘Fingal’s Cave’ (in Gaelic Uamh Bhin; ‘Melodious Cavern’).
Other visitors to Staffa included Queen Victoria, Dr Johnson and James Boswell, Thomas Campbell, Sir Walter Scott, and John Keats.
After Felix Mendelssohn visited ‘Fingal’s Cave’, he composed (in 1830) his Hebrides Overture. His attitude was positive towards Scotland, arriving ‘with a rake for folk-songs, an ear for the lovely, fragrant countryside, and a heart for the bare legs of the natives.’
‘Isle of Staffa’, Inner Hebrides, Scotland. From John Parker Lawson’s Scotland Delineated. London: Day and Son, 1858.