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Sunday 24 February 2019

The old croft and buildings of Breckan, Graemsay

I took a wander up to "Breckan" today as JB from the USA was keen to see some photos as his family were from the croft many many years ago.  So here are some of the photos.  The old croft is in ruins now and the land part of the larger farm of Fillets. But I love the old stone buildings and wonder what the stone walls would say if they could talk!

That's the Orkney Mainland in the background.

This building doesn't seem to have a chimney so may well have been a byre.  Latterly the cement and iron fittings were added to tie the kye (cattle) to in Winter.

The other end of the building - still no sign of a chimney....

The land looks down to Hoy Low lighthouse and over the Hoy Sound to Black Craig on the West Mainland of Orkney.

Stepped buildings...

Looking over to Stromness from Breckan

Not sure if the old machinery was originally from Breckan or Fillets.  But the same sort of machinery would have farmed the Breckan land in days past.

The flagstone leaning up against the wall was originally part of the roof. In the hazy background is the croft of Windywalls.

More flagstones from the roof.  You'd want to hope that the couples (wooden frame) was strong enough to hold these up over your head!

Looking through a window at Breckan to Quoynanapp, and the hydro (electric) pole.

More slates off the roof

Inside one of the longer buildings.  Flags from the roof again.  Flags on the floor (original).  And you can see the modifications that have been made to the wall over the years.

Looking down the length of the building, with a flagstone floor.

Interesting construction here.  Maybe blocking up a door?

This is likely to have been a "sink bain" which were recesses in walls to keep things.  This looks a bit like the dresser at Skara Brae!  However there are holes in this now - perhaps because the back would have only been a stone width deep and has deteriorated over the years.

Newer buildings surround the old ones now

More flags from the roof.  And you can see the newer house of Breckan between the buildings.

The roofline of the old building.

From Breckan looking towards the Hoy Hills.

Hope you enjoyed your wander round Breckan.  Sorry the weather was rather grey and chilly!


  1. I find it incredible how farming machinery is just left, frozen in time from so many decades ago, must be like a time capsule. Superb poste.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it (twice - haha!). I think it's because there wasn't much money in scrap and difficult to get off the island. I think a regular refuse collection only started in the 1970s. Everything else was buried in "middens" (a pit and covered with earth).

  2. I find it incredible how farming machinery is just left, frozen in time from so many decades ago, must be like a time capsule. Superb post.

  3. Sorry Sian, I think I'm going to write a blog today called ' I can't use the internet!'

  4. What a fascinating post, if only walls could talk!

  5. You seem to be the contact for all of us whose ancestors were raised in Graemsay! Beautiful photos!

    1. Hee hee - I suppose having an online "presence" helps. But I love hearing about all the connections across the world...

  6. Actually, I must get round to that Ancestry.Uk subscription! Or is there a more useful site? Any preferences?

    1. I don't use one but I hear that Ancestry UK is a good one. Also the local Orkney Family History Society are very helpful.