Friday 27 November 2009
Tuesday 24 November 2009
Friday 20 November 2009
The wedding of Elizabeth and Philip took place on the 20th November 1947 when post-war rationing was still in effect. The then Princess had to use clothing coupons to buy the material for her dress just like the book below which belonged to a family living in Clay Loan in 1947. (Orkney Archive reference D1/979/1)
CORRECTION: It has been pointed out to me by a reader that the top photograph can, of course, not date from 1960 as the Council Offices did not move to the old Kirkwall Grammar School site until the late 1970s. They were officially opened by the Queen on 12th of August 1978, her second visit to Orkney, during which she attended the 93rd County Show. I also said School Hill instead of School Place, sorry!
Wednesday 18 November 2009
We get told that quite a lot and being sensitive, hoarding souls, it never fails to make our blood run cold. Sometimes, upon receiving a potential archive, we listen as the depositor cheerfully describes the letters, photographs, scrapbooks and documents that they destroyed before thinking of the archive. A few weeks ago, a lady told me about the bonfire of photographs and legal papers that she made when clearing a relative's house. Oh the humanity...
We are always interested in your family papers and documents as they can contain so many clues to the past. If ever in doubt as to what to do with interesting old documents that no longer seem relevant, always think of us please!
Tuesday 17 November 2009
Saturday 14 November 2009
This talk or 'virtual tour' has been given to various groups over the years with a tweak here and there to suit the specific interests of Lunch clubs, school groups and MA students. We are always happy to give tours to small groups or indeed talks to slightly larger audiences.
Friday 13 November 2009
Orkney does not have many proper ghost stories, perhaps tough Orcadians don't scare easily.
Most of the folklore revolves around the sea. Sea monsters, selkies and phantom ships all make frequent appearances in our files of wonderful tales. This makes sense as many people relied on the sea for at least part of their living and the flat landscape sometimes feels dwarfed by the sea and skies, especially when it's stormy.
One creepy tale that keeps popping up in various forms is that of 'The Book of The Black Arts.' The basic story goes that there once existed a book full of charms and spells imbued with the requisite power to put said charms and spells into action. The book was said to be made up of black pages printed with white ink.
All of this was great except for one terrifying fact. If anyone died whilst still in posession of the book, he and it would be instantly claimed by its author, the Devil himself. The book was not easy to get rid of.
According to Ernest Walker Marwick's 'The Folklore of Orkney and Shetland', a man in Sandwick tried to get rid of the book by taking it far out to sea and throwing it over the side of his boat in a sack weighted with rocks. When he got home, the book was waiting for him on the kitchen table. Aaaaaaggggghhhh!!!!!
A girl in Sanday who had been tricked into accepting the evil book by a local witch flung it over Grunavi head but it was home in her bedroom before she was. Aaaaaggggghhhhh!!!
The story nearly always ends with a minister being appealed to and accepting charge of the terrible tome. The Rev. Charles Clouston is said to have buried the Sandwick copy in the manse garden and the Rev. Matthew Armour dealt with the Sanday copy.
The title page of the Book of the Black Arts is said to have read:
Thursday 12 November 2009
For years, small efforts had been made by members of the public to prevent the deterioration of the objects and papers still left in the vacant rooms and we have a very small collection of official (blank) forms and jotters as well as an annotated OS map in the archive. Empty buildings do not take long to destroy themselves, however.
But does something still have to be physically present to serve as a reminder of the past?
Before demolition began, the entire building was laser scanned by Historic Scotland so that a 3-dimensional model can be made, even when the original no longer exists. The Royal Commission for Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (or RCAHMS) hold plans, and photographs of exteriors, interiors, building details and aerial views:
Surely it is the information that counts, especially when any atmosphere of a bustling communications hub must have disappeared as soon as the damp infiltrated and mould, moss and mice took up residence?
Wednesday 11 November 2009
'Ingenuity Versus the Law'
'Of Kirks and Manses'
'The Broch of Deerness'
'Of Coracles, Soos and Curraghs'
' A Few Old Memories, Recounted in Winter Evenings 60 or 70 years ago. Some a Bit Newer'
We were also treated to a bit of his life story; war years in Cairo, life as an Orkney tradesman and the courting of his wife!
Like many today, he was in town to mark Remembrance Sunday at the Cathedral and had lain a wreath.
Tuesday 10 November 2009
It is a selection of letters, newspaper articles and documents that relate to the many Orcadians who left these Isles in search of a better life. Below is an extract from Orkney Archive reference D31/21/1/9, a letter from James Flett to his brother in Orkney from Fort Norman, Canada and dated 20th February 1880:
Monday 9 November 2009
Friday 6 November 2009
"Through many centuries, Orkney's churches have been the theatre in which the great dramas of Orkney's history have been played out.
From hermitages on wind-blasted holms to dour nineteenth-century preaching barns; from a splendid cathedral founded by a Norse earl to a Nissen hut painted by Italian prisoners during the Second World War; from city kirks built for huge and earnest Presbyterian congregations to a diminutive Roman Catholic chapel converted from a byre, Orkney's churches are diverse in scale, age, style and history, but all play their part in a story that is as beautiful and stormy as the islands themselves.
Jocelyn Rendall tells the fascinating story of an island's people through the records of these churches. From reluctant pagans to zealous firebrands and all in between, the tales within range from the hilarious to the heartbreaking and give a vibrant, enlightening and important perspective to Orkney's rich history. "
With evocative illustrations by Crispin Worthington.Price: £11.99
Thursday 5 November 2009
Wednesday 4 November 2009
Our correspondent saw a brief description in the Stromness museum alongside a photograph but I can find no reference at all in the Orkney Room or Archive.
Any more info out there?
Tuesday 3 November 2009
Taken from Margaret Tait's notebook reference D97/6/4
Monday 2 November 2009
Pictured above is what japers of yore did on the 31st of October.
The image by Tom Kent is part of the Orkney Photographic Archive.