Swona, (named from Old Norse, 'Sweyn's Island') was inhabited from prehistoric times until the 1970s. There is a chambered cairn, and the island is mentioned several times in The Orkneyinga Saga. The people of Swona were fishermen, but there is also evidence of vegetable growing in planticrues, which were fertilised with seasweed.
When the last inhabitants departed Swona in 1974, they left behind their cattle. A few were later removed and sold, but since then have been left to become feral. Originally from Aberdeen Angus and Shorthorn stock, the herd is hardy, and seems to be stable at about 20 animals. They are one of the few examples in the world of wild cattle, and as such are of great interest to scientists.