Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Below The Wind and Above The Sea

  Lands end is the northeastern tip of Scotland.

   Calm seas as we queue for the ferry to the Orkney Islands, departing from John O' Groats.

  They say they live "below the wind and above the sea."
There are 70 islands in the Orkney archipelago, 20 are inhabited. 

People have lived in the Orkneys for 8,500 years. There are presently 21 thousand with most of the population on the large island Mainland.

The largest town is Kirkwall with 8,500.

    St. Magnus Cathedral is at the heart of Kirkwall. It is the northern most cathedral in the United Kingdom.
     The sandstone building was started in 1137 and it took 300 years to complete, at a time when Norse Earls controlled the Orkney Islands. It's built in Norman style, the work done by English masons. 
 In 1468 when King James III of Scotland annexed the islands, he gave ownership of the cathedral to the burgh of Kirkwall. It has a dungeon.
  The turret clock was added 1761 and was built by a Scots clockmaker Hugh Gordon. 

    Kirkwall is an administrative center for the Orkney islands. It was first mentioned in records in 1046.

    500 live in the village of St. Margret Hope. Life is gentle, peaceful and quiet. Ferry and air service connects the population centers.

  There are historic sites on the Orkneys, including Skaill Manor near the 5 thousand year old neolithic UNESCO World Heritage site, Skara Brae, detailed in a previous post. 
      There is striking evidence of more recent history, WWII. That is detailed in a future post.
     There is calm and tranquillity in this area of Scotland.

   Back in Scotland, the remote crofting village of Thrumster, Caithness is south of Wick. An old black smith building has been turned into a time capsule of sorts the "Smitty."

   It's a warm and lively pub with a purpose. Raymond, below, is a Seanchai,(shawnakee) a Gaelic storyteller and historian.
    Before written language Seanchais kept and recited lyric poems that contained history and law.
  A music teacher, he works with local kids to keep alive traditional song and instruments.  A 9 year old piper
  and her 11 year old brother are part of Raymond's oral and musical history presentation.
  It wove a rich texture of history, culture and emotion for Scots and those with Scottish heritage. The stuff for dreams and reflection at the end of a day of travel.

   We journey on.

  See you down the trail.


  1. I feel like I hid in one of your suitcases and made the trip with you.

    1. I appreciate the comment. I'm striving for a full immersion report.