Rockall is a rock that is 570 square meters in size, located in the northern Atlantic Ocean.
In Irish folklore it is believed that Rockall is referred to as “Rocabarra” a mythical rock that would appear prior to doomsday. Apart from in the legend the rock had gone unnoticed until 1686 when a fishing boat ran aground in the vicinity.
It was first brought to the attention of the scientific world by a Scott, Martin Martin in 1703.
Since then it has been known as a deadly place. In 1812 a research ship named “Leonidas” sank there and 12 years later the ship “Helen of Dundee”. In 1904 a ship “Norway” sank there killing 635.
No one formally laid claim to this fateful rock but in 1955 the British placed a flag on it, along with some navigational beacons. In 1972, the accession of Rockall to the Scottish community of Harris was announced.
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The above water remains of an extinct volcano; Rockall has never had fresh water on it and so had been considered uninhabitable, except to seabirds. However in 1975 two Marines spent a couple of hours on the rock doing a photo shoot. Ten years later a retired British soldier spent six weeks living in a wooden box screwed to the rock.
Later, in protest of British oil exploration in the area, three members of Greenpeace inhabited the rock for 42 days, declaring it to be a new global state of “Waveland” and invited anyone to come and become a national. No one accepted the invitation.
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Now though, that oil has been detected around the rock, plus possible gas fields, four countries have laid claim to it.
It is thought that the oil rights could be worth 100 billion pounds, plus the gas rights and also the area has been found to be rich in marine life. So, the rights to this deadly rock and its surrounds are now fiercely sought after.
The four claimants, UK, Ireland, Iceland and Denmark have all placed claims with the United Nations.
The UK and Ireland have placed claims to the rock itself. The UK claims that the nearest territorial waters are those of the UK with its Scottish Islands. Ireland says that the islands do not count and that the rock is nearest to the Irish mainland.
The other two claimants are not claiming the rock itself. The rock is positioned on a plateau. The Faroe Islands share this plateau with Rockall and the Faroe Islands are owned by Denmark and so it claims rights along the plateau. This plateau is also linked to a plateau off of Iceland and so they are also claiming rights along the plateau.
So, it would seem that this rock has almost become worth its weight in gold.
Although it is not likely that any of these countries will actually go to war to decide their point, it is unlikely that any will cede their claim to another.
This will therefore have to be settled by the UN. It is estimated that all formal documentations will be submitted by 2014 allowing the UN to decide the ownership of this Golden Rock.
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