Wednesday 24 December 2014
Hooray! It is Christmas Eve! We've had 20 mini Celebrations already and have sang 'Mistletoe & Wine' to each other at least thrice.
Today's lovely seal is taken from our Baikie of Tankerness collection. It is another burgess and guild brother ticket, this time for the Burgh of Aberdeen. It was presented to James Baikie of Tankerness on the 5th September 1733.
We thought it looked particularly festive with it's swishy red ribbon and we like that the seal itself looks like a jammy dodger.
Merry Christmas !
Oh! We almost forgot! Here's a final festive treat for you. Old, waxy seals are not the only kind of seal you know. There is the singing kind as well. Enjoy:
Orkney Archive reference: D24/9/122
Sunday 21 December 2014
Our penultimate seasonal seal is taken from our Sheriff Court collection. It is taken from an envelope (with no letter within) which is addressed to James Robertson. No date or other information are available.
It is a lovely, simple seal with nymph-like creatures either side of a shield with urns on their heads and garlands around their waists.
Orkney Archive reference: SC/11/86/12/2a/29
Friday 19 December 2014
Still seals, but this time, they are sketches of Orcadian seals made by Hugh Marwick.
Mr Marwick was a Rousay born historian, archaeologist and teacher. He was rector of Kirkwall Grammar School for 15 years and published works on Orcadian place names which we still use constantly in the archive.He was born in 1881 and died in 1965.
We like to draw seals too.
Orkney Archive Reference D29/2/3
Wednesday 17 December 2014
Monday 15 December 2014
Ooooh, this one is a beauty! Taken from a certificate of admittance to the fraternity of Masters and Seamen of Dundee, it is still a lovely, rich red and has a crisp 'dundee' printed underneath an image of a ship.
And look, the ribbon threads right through the certificate.Why does this excite us so? Ahh yes, because we are nerds.
SEAL: Ooh, the more I get of you, the stranger it feels, yeah!
And now that your rose is in bloom,
A light hits the gloom on the gray!
ARCHIVER: (Grabbing the microphone)Now that your rose is in bloooooom,
A light hits the gloooooom ooooon theeee graaaaay....
DUSTY: (softly) Ba-da-da, ba-da-da-da-da-daaaaaa
Orkney Archive Reference: D28/4/2/3
Saturday 13 December 2014
Taken from the Baikie of Tankerness collection, this seal is sadly incomplete. It is, however, totally awesome as it bears the crowned head of a king with sword arm aloft.
SEAL: (grudgingly) That is pretty cool.
Orkney Archive Reference; D24/3/105
Friday 12 December 2014
But we're all sick of Christmas songs already right? And yet this kind of weather creates a need for something seasonal and at the same time heart-warming and jolly doesn't it?
What could fit the bill?!
Oh let's just stop work altogether and listen to Aztec Camera all day long:
Thursday 11 December 2014
Our sixth festive seal is taken from a charter dated 1594 by George Balfour and is in Scots.
We quite like it because it reminds us a bit of a jam tart.
SEAL: *high-pitched voice* We quite like it 'cos it's like a jam tart!
SEAL: I could have given you so much Orkney Archive. Remember this bad boy? Of course you do, everyone does, it's a flippin' CLASSIC:
Orkney Archive Reference: D1/1030/3
Tuesday 9 December 2014
Three Seals at once!
Orkney Archive Reference D1/1030/1 is a Charter dated 1566 by Alexander Deik, provost of the Cathedral of Orkney,in favour of Gilbert Balfour of certain lands in South Ronaldsay. The document is in Latin.
It looks like two seals belonging to Adam Bothwell, then Bishop of Orkney, have been attached.
SEAL: Has Adam Bothwell been married to a supermodel? I doubt it! Amateurs.
ARCHIVER & DUSTY: *soothingly* Shhhhhhhh. Hush now.
Orkney Archive Reference: D1/1030/1
Sunday 7 December 2014
A Royal Seal this time, that of King Charles II to be exact. It is attached to a charter of ratification in favour of Henry Graham of Breckness, confirming his lands in Stromness, Sandwick, Orphir and Kirkwall and St Ola.
The date is April 1669 and, like most of these documents, the material is vellum. The seal is known as the Virginia Seal.
SEAL: Have any of your stupid seals ever performed at a ROYAL Variety Show?!!
ARCHIVER: *patiently* No, Seal.
Orkney Archive Reference: D3/419/5
Friday 5 December 2014
SEAL: I've told my mum about how you tricked me and she says it's really unfair!
ARCHIVER: Not now Seal. We're working.
SEAL: Yeah, working at ruining others' self -esteem...
ARCHIVER: Oh come now, have a Twix.
Today's fab seal is another burgess ticket, this time for the burgh of Wick in favour of Robert Baikie of Tankerness. The date is 4th November 1878.
The Wick seal is lovely, a wee townscape of buildings beside the shore.
Orkney Archive Reference: D24/9/131
Wednesday 3 December 2014
This beauty is attached to a precept of clare constat (a deed in which a superior acknowledges that it 'clearly appears' that someone is heir to landed property held of the superior) by George, Bishop of Orkney, in favour of Robert Elphinstone as heir to Rany Elphinstone, his father, of the half pennyland of Hamagar in Cairston in the sheriffdom of Orkney.
Dated 17th September 1616. Orkney Archive Reference D1/792
This seal is heavy and rounded at the back with a thick layer of yellowing wax. The arms shown are those of the Graham clan: a seal quartered by roses and scallops.
DUSTY: Hey Archiver.
ARCHIVER: Hey Dusty.
DUSTY: Seal told me to tell you that he's really upset and that he's still willing to appear on the blog if you say sorry to him.
ARCHIVER: I'm sorry about the confusion but there's no room for him this advent. *shouts* Sorry Seal!
SEAL: *behind door* You will be! I notice none of your poxy wax seals had a Batman movie theme-tune. You're pathetic!
DUSTY: Maybe give him a bit of time. I'll give him a twix.
Monday 1 December 2014
ARCHIVER: Hey Seal
ARCHIVER: It's almost Christmas time, Seal.
SEAL: Indeed. Gets here faster every year doesn't it?
ARCHIVER: We usually celebrate advent on the blog and I've got a nifty idea for 2014.
SEAL: *listening face*
ARCHIVER: Well. You know how we love us a seal here at the archives?
ARCHIVER: We were thinking of having a '12 seals of Christmas'. A different seal for every couple of days. You know, a fancy seal, an informal seal, a 19th century seal...
SEAL: *eagerly*- a 'Crazy' Seal!
ARCHIVER: Exactly, all the different kinds. Do you mind doing us a favour?
SEAL: Of course not! Anything! This is really exciting! Thanks so much for thinking of me!
ARCHIVER: Could you perhaps print out a list of documents with seals attached from our catalogue and then get them out for me? My bunions are playing up.
ARCHIVER: Did you hear me?
SEAL: *sulkily* - You mean wax seals? On bits of old letters?
ARCHIVER: Yes of course. Why, what did you think I was talking about? Seal? Seal? SEAL!
Oh well, better crack on:
Seal number 1 is attached to a Burgh of Kirkwall burgess ticket in favour of Mr John Geddes, druggist in Kirkwall.
Its date is the 4th of November 1862 and it was gifted to the archive in 1986.
A burgess ticket was originally granted to an inhabitant of a burgh who owned land. It was later restricted to merchants and craftsmen and later still could be presented to outsiders who had performed a service for the burgh. One needed a burgess ticket to practise a trade or vote in elections.
This seal is kept inside its own round, little, metal case which is awesome.
Orkney Archive Reference D1/85/4
Monday 17 November 2014
From the Orkney Herald 4 November 1914
A SOLDIER’S LETTER
We are beginning to wonder when the end is going to come. It cannot come soon enough, and I hope it will not be long. My chum Bannerman from Arbroath was killed on the 14th September, our last big battle. We lay in the trenches for a month after the fight facing the Germans who were continually attacking parts of the line. On several occasions when outside the firing line I heard them speaking and, by going out a certain distance, we could see them, whilst we were continually being annoyed by snipers. The German infantry don’t seem to be up to much but they have got splendid artillery. During the time we lay in the trenches they accounted for about 100 of our chaps, I believe, all with their artillery, except one or two who were sniped. On the 14th September the Black Watch lost 461 – that includes killed, wounded and missing – which was the greatest number the regiment has ever lost in one day.
D1/1118 – Diary of experiences and daily incidents during the Great War
Christmas Day was different for Margaret Tait in Kirkwall. In Dec 1914, she would be about 55 years old:
S1/5, p140. Extract of Minute from Stromness Town Council, 26th January 1915, 10.30am
"A letter from the Burgh Surveyor as to large quantity of water being taken by H. M. Ships was considered and after a discussion with the Burgh Surveyor who was present, the subject was allowed to lie in abeyance at present. It was however remitted to the Water Committee to consider as to purchasing of water meter to be placed at the Harbour Commissioners Pier.
Click on the label "Orkney at War" below to see more blog posts on this subject.
Monday 3 November 2014
We have several folders worth of picnic photos in the photographic archive. Orcadians obviously loved a good picnic and the images range from small get togethers to vast, highly attended occasions.
Some of our photographs show very dressed up people, some show picnickers having a break in scruffy work clothes. Some show lunchers munching on a banana and boiled egg, others have tables full of plated sandwiches and cakes.
The one thing that is always done properly is tea. Even if the picnic is a casual affair with a few sandwiches out of a basket, eaten off a be-napkinned lap, there are always proper cups, and quite often an actual kettle. Above shows a typical example.
We enjoy tea at the Orkney Archives (perhaps we have mentioned?), so imagine our delight when we found these pictures of a picnic where, not only were several kettles in attendance, but an actual STOVE with a CHIMNEY.
All of these photos were taken from the miscellaneous file so we do not know where they took place or who attended.
Monday 27 October 2014
Friday 24 October 2014
We were shocked to find it in a copy of a local newspaper in 1939: http://orkneyarchive.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/at-least-its-neat.html
Monday 20 October 2014
We are very sorry for the lack of posting recently but various tragic I.T. occurrences have made it very difficult. Rest assured that we have been wailing over keyboards whilst rending our clothes in a bid to communicate with you.
The letter shown above caused much hilarity in the searchroom a few days ago as it is possibly the poshest letter ever written. David Balfour is being alerted to the fact that his tiger heads have been left in the capable hands of one Mr Sanderson and his correspondent draws attention to the hard won (8 days of stalking!) tiger head of a Mr David Kennedy although " I consider that yours are specimens that are not easily equalled."
Read it do. It'll make you feel like a peasant.
Tuesday 12 August 2014
In his diary, James Marwick, Lieutenant/Captain in the Royal Garrison Artillery (Territorial Division) wrote on Monday 3rd August:
"Mobilised at Drill Hall Stromness 3pm. I was there in full marching order ready to go"
On Wednesday 5th August he was in Rackwick:
A very different perspective came from Stewart Isbister who was a new recruit to the Royal Garrison Artillery (Territorial Division) in 1914. In his memoir, having been posted to Kirkwall Drill Hall from Finstown, he wrote: "I cannot begin to tell you of the lonesomeness of those days, my first away from home and the new Army life I found so bewildering. " Orkney Archive Reference D1/1177
"The tents were pitched on flat piece of ground between Mucklehouse and Black Neave near a low wall which Mr Taylor had built. Three tents for men to live in; one cook's store tent; one Guard Tent on level space...Serg. Mackay & I lived in Test house. There were a couple of chair beds and blankets &c in it and we just took possession of these..."
Orkney Archive Reference D1/1118
A very different perspective came from Stewart Isbister who was a new recruit to the Royal Garrison Artillery (Territorial Division) in 1914. In his memoir, having been posted to Kirkwall Drill Hall from Finstown, he wrote: "I cannot begin to tell you of the lonesomeness of those days, my first away from home and the new Army life I found so bewildering. "
Orkney Archive Reference D1/1177
Our current exhibitions chart Orkney's experience of WW1 at home through the use of official documents, letters home, newspaper articles, diaries and photographs. We have three so far, each covering three months of the war.
Click on the label "Orkney at War" below to see more blog posts on this subject.
Saturday 9 August 2014
It is County Show day again in Orkney and, whilst we would normally be crying into our documents because we're not eating a cake next to a pony, we feel slightly less short-changed today. Because it is raining. Lots.
The same thing happened in 1950:
Wednesday 6 August 2014
"Orkney at War: August - October 1914" is the first in a series of new exhibitions in the Orkney Archive to commemorate WW1. This one concentrates on the first three months and the impact war had on these islands. We show extracts from three war diaries from very different perspectives, an article on the history of the postal service, emergency town council minutes on finding extra hospital accommodation, a plan of a hastily built seaplane station at Scapa, reports from the Orcadian newspaper on the war at home and abroad, and many more archive items.
This exhibition is available to see during Archive opening hours
For those of you who can't visit the exhibition I'll be sharing some of the documents used over the next few months.
Sunday 27 July 2014
I realised this is my geeky side revealing itself when I told the story to Archiver and she could not stop yawning. So please comment if you find it interesting, then I can point at her, laugh, and say "I told you so!" In a respectful colleague to colleague way, of course.
Definition Act of Grace: A privilege or concession that cannot be claimed as a right: e.g. the bonus remains a payment made as an act of grace
In Scots Law this concession mainly referred to civil debt. When a person is imprisoned for not paying their debt, they can petition the court to let them out if it can be proved they do not have the means to pay. If the debt is an aliment (a fund of maintenance), then it can be changed to installments of not less than three-pence. [Information from A Dictionary of the Law of Scotland by Robert Bell, pub.1815]
Our example is about William Gunn, a shoemaker from Orphir in the West Mainland who is in Kirkwall Jail and Jane McKay from South Faray or Fara, an island in Scapa Flow.
Thursday 10 July 2014
Here is a selection of
Firstly Common or rather Commonty. Here is a copy of the beautiful lithographed plan of the commonty of Deerness from 1839. [Archive Reference: D7/2/1(F4)]
Wednesday 2 July 2014
What a sombre looking bunch. The Kirkwall Tennis Club are very sad that Andy Murray is out of Wimbledon. The two women in the middle of the front row look like they're actually trying not to cry.
Those two on the right, on the other hand, need to show some respect. Probably Djokovic fans.
And so we sob again with the help of Barry Manilow. Oh Andy... here's to next year...
Friday 20 June 2014
Photo and letter taken from the Magnus Spence collection.Orkney Archive Reference: D32/2/2
Saturday 14 June 2014
WE HAVE THE ANSWER TO YOUR EVERY QUESTION. (on Orcadian local history.) (covered by a Fereday project.) (That's a smashing blouse you've got on.)
Why did horses leave the land??
What was it like to live on Copinsay???
How have people in Orkney been affected by the changes in domestic fuel????
How has Highland Park changed over the years and, whilst we're on the subject, what is the story behind those elaborate gates at the Highland Park distillery???!!?
The answers to these questions and more can be found in this year's crop of Fereday Prize entries.
Nothing will lessen our esteem for this collection. A fantastic historical source which we turn to time and time again.
The thirteen year old authors of these papers may not be professional historians but they are often the only written source we hold on very specific, local topics. Past years have given us projects on early swimming in Orkney, the air ambulance, shops in the Hope, Dentistry in Orkney the histories of Woolworths, Argo's bakery and the Finstown post office as well as countless investigations into individual lives and homes in Orkney.
The work's copyright, of course, resides with the author. We can let visitors see the projects but they cannot copy them without permission. The projects have been so successful that we now send out permissions forms to the pupils as soon as they hand in their pieces. If you have done a Fereday or know someone who has done one or just want to feel involved, please print out, fill out and send out this form.
Friday 30 May 2014
The delightful image above is taken from the Margaret Tait collection and is a painting of her wonderful eightsome reel figures which feature in the animated film Painted Eightsome which can be seen here.
We also found the fiddled-diddledy figure's genesis in one of her notebooks:
Supporting material from the Orkney Archive including copies of Margaret Tait's watercolour sketches plus correspondence about her film making are also part of the exhibition.
If you are not in Orkney, or shall not make it to the exhibition, then you can take a look at one of the films being shown here:
Painting: Orkney Archive Reference D97/44/2
Notebook: Orkney Archive Reference D97/28/15