Wednesday 2 September 2009
Yesterday a friend visited (she's from "south" but now lives on Shapinsay - one of the islands north of Orkney Mainland). Her Grandfather was born on Graemsay in the 1800s and she wanted to visit the croft where he was born, known as "Crookshouse" which used to be the home of the Johnston family during the 19th Century. So after I'd given her a "whistle-stop" tour of the island and a short walk on both Sandside beaches, Mick from the lighthouse very kindly took us up to the croft in his jeep. His family work the croft with sheep, though the houses are long derelict with fallen in roofs. However S was delighted to visit the home of her forebears and, with dry weather and the sun in the sky, she could wander among the old stone buildings.
It seems to be quite traditional for the old crofts to be built close together with a small "lane" running between them. The building would provide some shelter for the crofter to leave the house and tend to the beasts in the byres. Though I bet the wind could whistle down the lanes, and rattle about the houses.
Scarratain is a house by the shore on Graemsay and still has a traditional turf roof (the turf would have been laid on top of stone slabs, acting as extra insulation). With continued coastal erosion it is probably yards closer to the shore than when it was first built.
The view above looks across to another wee croft house in the middle distance, with the Hoy cliffs across the water.