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Thursday, 22 April 2010


Enough of boats and planes (well we don't have enough) - no flights in or out of Orkney till at least 1pm today, though our Hamnavoe boat is expected back in Stromness tomorrow morning and will also bring some folk home from Aberdeen. But today some light relief!

I know nothing about geology (as will become apparent if you read on!) but I am fascinated how the landscape is fashioned. I love looking at the microcosm of stone and strata and imaging the aeons of wind, rain, time and tide that have fashioned the wonderful forms. The photos in this post are taken on the West shore of Graemsay near the lighthouse, Hoy Low and are provided by kind permission of Tom Muir (Orcadian, archaeologist, folklorist, storyteller of international renown, writer and a jolly nice chap). Tom visited Graemsay last summer and took these photos. He has also provided a couple of stories that go along with the photos and has kindly allowed me to reproduce the photos and stories here.

The photo at the top of this post is called the "Cha'mers of Goldie", and the photo on the left shows a niche in the stone where legend has it a young man from a croft called "Goldie" hid in here in the early 1800s to escape the press gang. The press gangs went about capturing local sailors to be "pressed" into the Royal Navy to fight during the Napoleonic Wars. The story goes that the young man put up such a fight that he was killed (some stories say he was shot). The red marks on the stone are said to be his blood stains.

The photo below is know as the "Hattie Man o' Ree" - who, legend says, was a man, maybe even a giant, who came from the island of Hoy to destroy a newly built church when Christianity was first introduced. However he was turned to stone as he set foot on Graemsay (source - Geordie Marwick, unpublished paper).

More rock formations below


  1. Bonjour, Sian. One of my grandfathers was an Orcadian, & I've never been to the place. Unlikely, now - so pleased to find your interesting blog.

  2. Just randomly found your blog by clicking on 'next blog' from mine. It's so interesting to read about island life, and your photos are great!

    Hope the ferries and flights are back to normal for you now...

  3. Welcome Minnie! Do drop by again. Where in Orkney did your grandfather come from, do you know?

  4. Diane - thanks for visiting! Yes ferries and flights back to normal. All seems to have gone quiet in the news about the volcano.....

  5. Kirkwall; school + university in Aberdeen. I believe he's buried on Orkney - probably Kirkwall.