1. Introduction
Skomer from the mainland at Wooltack Point across Jack Sound
The idea for this project originated from a visit to the Haverfordwest Public Record Office with a genealogist, who had become interested in the 19th century families  who were attracted to live on Skomer island despite its difficulty of access and  economic isolation from the mainland agricultural system.  
Up to that time my own experience of Skomer had been focused on unravelling the cultural ecology of the island's old field system that was dominated by the grazing and  burrowing of rabbits.  This work was undertaken each year with a small group of my students from the University of Wales at Cardiff.  In those days, the 1970s, living on Skomer was much more of a wilderness experience than it is today.  In particular, there was no reliable boat service and it was commonplace to be marooned for days beyond the scheduled two-week booking.  The radio telephone was only to be used in an emergency and portable radios were banned.  In many ways a stay on the island was a kind of pre-industrial experience and on coming off the island, the  drive to the nearest market town of Haverfordwest involved the real trauma of  joining mainstream consumerism once again. In this context, you couldn't avoid speculating on the lives and thoughts of those who really lived an island life controlled by winds and tides before the age of the outboard motor.
The idea of putting together an account of the island was developed by a team of  teachers in the St Clears Teachers Resource Centre (the Going Green Directorate), the aim being to produce a teaching resource as a celebration of the fortieth anniversary of Skomer being declared a national nature reserve.  It  was to be a compilation drawn from books,  reports of scientific research,  documents and maps held in the Pembrokeshire Record Office, the archives of the local Wildlife Trust and the island's draft management plan. It was created to  demonstrate the new interactive possibilities for producing 'hypertexts' in the form  of computer community share- ware. 
It was originally formatted as a Help file for distribution through SCAN, the Schools and Communities Agenda 21 Network based in the National Museum at Cardiff.  This work involved the European Schools Network, based in Portugal exchanging ideas, using the EU Olympus communications satellite links through the teacher's centre at Llangefni, on how to integrate sustainale development into school syllabuses.
Denis Bellamy, Editor
January 1999