Smuggling was rife in the coastal waters of Dumfries and Galloway throughout the 18th century. Hestan was one of many sites used by smugglers to stow contraband, with its caves providing prime locations for hiding goods from the excisemen prior to distribution.
Hestan has copper mines which were mined in the 1840s. The copper was shipped to Swansea.
The Urr estuary was once an important shipping route, to allow the export of granite from Dalbeattie quarry. With its shallow tidal waters, the Solway has its fair share of shipwrecks and many vessels got into difficulty around Hestan island. Hestan’s first lighthouse was instated in 1893.