Deerness in 100 Objects > Exhibition
Deerness in 100 Objects
Deerness in 100 Objects PosterIn the summer of 2011, The Friends of St Ninian's, supported by Scotland's Islands funding ran an ambitious, six week long, community project entitled Deerness in 100 Objects, aimed at encouraging visitors and locals alike to visit the parish of Deerness. The project centered around an exhibition of 100 main Objects (though many more items were displayed and added throughout the six weeks!) which explored the history, interests and sense of community in the parish.
The objects included items relating to; fishing, farming, the shore, wrecks, Covenanters, music, folk, folklore, kirk, school, trades and shops, archeaology, wartime, coastguard, drama, groups and clubs, nature, arts, music and crafts and the environment. It is hoped that, over time, we will show a full photographic and descriptive catalogue of the items which were on display on this website - please keep checking back!
As well as the 100 main objects, there was also a wealth of additional items (reference books, photographs, recordings, etc) which gave visitors a peedie bit more information about the items and the context in which they were used and how they related to Deerness.
The Exhibition took place in the Deerness Hall, which was also the location for another vitally important part of the project - The Mermaid Cafe. When planning the project, members of the Friends of St Ninian's were keen to incorporate opportunities for temporary, local, youth employment and, as Deerness had no existing eatery, it was decided to open a cafe for the duration of the project. A number of local youngsters were employed to serve 'front of house' in the cafe, ably assisted in the kitchen by a band of hugely talented Deerness ladies who gave a significant amount of voluntary time and effort to produce the superb soups, sandwiches and baking.
The final part of the project was the programme of additional events, aimed at encouraging the visitors (and locals alike) to get "oot and aboot" in the parish. Various locations and venues were used to stage a series of twenty-four events which included; Gaethering Gablos at the Gloup, a fun family session where participants got the chance to find out about the variety of creepy crawlies which live in the area around the Mull Head Interpretation Centre; Deerness Connections, an evening concert held at the St Ninian's Kirk, which showcased a number of talented Deerness musicians and performers, and; Open Days at the Brough of Deerness, where visitors were given the opportunity to view finds and ask questions of those involved in a working archaeological dig.
During the six weeks which the project ran, over a thousand people visited the Exhibition and - from the number of positive comments in the Visitors Book - thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
A huge thanks must therefore go to everyone who came along and supported the project - but also, without the enthusiasm, help and involvement of everyone in Deerness, this project would never have been possible. So to you all - thank you for all of your hard work - and well done!
Below is a full list of the 100 objects.......we are trying to put together a full photo gallery of the event, so if you have pictures you would be happy to share please let us know.
1. Billy Bruce’s great grandfather’s boots – parishes like Deerness were largely self-supporting and in addition to a shoemaker, had tailors, seamstresses, joiners and carpenters, masons and labourers, boatbuilders, shops, Post Office, undertaker and many more.
2. Tuning fork and photo of Precentor of the Upper Kirk - Deerness for a period had 2 churches or kirks. To find out more read the Kirk section in ‘‘Almost an Island’’ The Precentor was vital. There was no organ in either church for many years and the precentor led the singing – thus too the tuning fork. See also object 30.
3. ‘Mould’ stone which may be Iron Age or Norse, from Barns of Ayre. The moulds are for making ingots of silver which might then be chopped to make hack silver, and used to pay for goods. The ingot shapes are Norse, but the small round, mirror or spoon shape is an oddity and suggests the mirror shape of Pictish stones. Was the stone used first by a Pict and then a Viking? Viking silver could well have been from the Middle East, mined in Afghanistan, refined and made into coins in Arabia or Persia and then ‘ obtained’ by a Viking to bring home to the north, here in Deerness.
4. Rev. George Low’s drawing of early church at Skaill – the twin-towered early church down by the shore, replaced in 1798 by the current Kirk of St Ninian’s. Unique in Orkney for its twin towers and making it of, as yet not understood, eccliastical significance. Visit St Ninian’s and see also the hogback tomb cover there, which would have covered the grave of a significant Norse figure perhaps even Thorkell Fostri, foster father of Earl Thorfinn. See also the finds work, on Fridays to 22 July inclusive, from this year’s excavations on the Brough of Derness.
5. Anglo Saxon strap–end from the Brough of Deerness – the current excavations on the Brough of Deerness are yielding a story of a Norse village to which valuable goods were brought from afar. The strap-end came north from England.
6. Shawl from Kitchen of Brecks – this now rather the worse for wear Paisley shawl was a marriage shawl, worn by Sarah Clouston, South Keigar at her wedding in the 1860s. It would have been beautiful in its rich newness on the day the bride wore it.
7. Orkney Boat ‘’The Sunset” – boats were built in Deerness and various exhibits here refer to that trade, a vital skill for an almost sea-bound parish. This lifebelt is all that remains of The Sunset
8. Gravy boat from the Tennessee – Deerness has seen many shipwrecks over centuries and this one had a happy ending in that everyone survived. There is also a ‘‘Whisky Galore’’ element to the tale with Deerness falling heir by means not altogether clear, to large quantities of teak and soya meal.
9. “Almost An Island” - the bible for all things relevant to Deerness’s way of life for the latter half of the 19th and a great part of the 20th Century. We have lots of copies here for you to dip into and enjoy
10. Braebuster book + photograph – the Reids of Braebuster. Braebuster was The Bu farm of Deerness, its largest and best farm, with its big house, the last of a series of major houses in Deerness. Newark and Sandside are almost entirely gone and another big house at Sands is a mark on an 18th century map and that’s it
11. Jack Owen’s memorial seat outside the Hall – there was an RAF station in Deerness during World War 2 and a major Radar station, part of the Chain Home Low system. Jack Owens and many others passed through Deerness between 1939 and 1945 and some, like Jack, had happy memories of their time here and the friends they made and kept in touch all the rest of their days
12. Deerness meteorological records – in one week in June 1920 Deerness achieved 87% of the total possible sunshine in the UK, a most remarkable record. Weather records were maintained in Deerness for many years and the data can be seen in part here and in its entirety at the Orkney Archive, Orkney Library, Junction Road, Kirkwall.
13. William Delday o Quoybellock wrote poetry and various examples in addition to this handwritten piece are in this Exhibition. Read them and reach your own conclusions about this parish bard – a case of the curate’s egg, perhaps?
14. Family tree – Deerness spins a spider’s web of family relationships and this family tree demonstrates the interweaving of families across generations. If you think you connect into a Deerness family anywhere, but need to know more, you need to speak to Mabel Eunson – ask at the desk for contact details or when she’ll next be on duty.
15. The mangle is a reminder of the hard work involved in running a home. No hot water, no easy detergents, no spin-dryer, no electric iron. No manmade fabrics. The men toiled hard on the land and sea and at their trades and the women washed and cleaned and cooked and sewed and ran the house.
16. 1960s order book for ‘’the van’’ - mobile shops, whether horse-drawn or internal combustion engine, were for long a feature of rural life and this book is a reminder of the simplicity and plainness of the fare by comparison to the foodstuffs we now jet in from far away and the dire price we now pay for petrol.
17. Album of various items from one family’s part in Deerness life. These records include some which belonged to the shop at the Lighthouse Corner, now a private home and self-catering accommodation. The album also contains wedding invitations It was not all hard work: weddings, theatricals, music and Kirk events all had their place in the lives of Deerness folk. Weddings were often in the darkest days of December. Life was quieter on the farms and at sea in the depths of winter and people have always celebrated at the shortest days --- a very good time to dance and sing.
18. Sowing box for seed - after winter, comes Spring and the sowing of barley and bere and grass for summer and winter fodder. “
19. Cradle – after Winter weddings, what’s more likely than the need for a cradle and this one is made by Freddie Wylie (have a good look at all the photos in object 17) who made it for his grandchildren
20. Jar of groatie buckies all found in Deerness – the shore has always been an important aspect of island life, for food, fish bait, seaweed, driftwood and pleasure. Groatie buckies are avidly collected, and if you see folk on a shell-sand shore, on their hands and knees patiently going over and over the sand, you can bet they’ll be looking for groatie buckies, and just for the beauty of them not because they’re lucky or any other superstition.
21. Shipping records of boats listed as belonging to Deerness, demonstrating the livelihoods which depended on the sea.
22. Davy Eunson’s Smiddy window picture – this was at the smiddy which is now the house of Symbister. When the smiddy was open, the horse was on show and when shut, no horse. There are photographs on the central tables of the transformation from smiddy to home, and as you head east to the Gloup and Kirk, pause at the house at the roadside with the whale-bone and admire Symbister’s wonderful garden, tended admirably by Laurence and Evelyn Irvine.
23. Bushel measure – the integrity of measurements was vitally important both for the buying and selling of goods. Was it to be a straightened, flat measure, or a heaped measure and if so, how heaped? How packed was meal/flour/grain to be? It depended on whether you were buying or selling or bartering.
24. Kelp burning – kelp was made from seaweed and in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries was vital part in the wealth of Orkney’s landowners. It was used in glass manufacture and imported supplies dried up with the Napoleonic Wars, thus the development of British production. The market dropped with peace but kelpmaking continued as a small-scale enterprise, no longer in the hands of the big landowners, up to World War 2 .
25. Mine (innards removed!) used as buoy at Geo to tie up the Foubisters’ boat. It was a German mine and they laid many around all of Orkney’s islands during both World War 1 and World War 2. Note the bounty paid for the retrieval of mines.
26. Ploughing match trophy and medals – there is a lot more information in the exhibition about ploughing matches. These competitive events continue to be part of farming life but now with tractors, not the horse of the past.
27. Brass bulkhead light from the wreck of Prince de Liege - an example of the re-use of materials and things. An island people did not have access to the goods readily available to city folk and weren’t going to let something of quality and use go to waste and so, anything that could be, was salvaged and recycled, like this bulkhead light which came ashore and was used again in Johnny Aitken’s workshop.
28. Neolithic stone knives – Deerness hasn’t yielded up many Neolithic secrets yet and that’s maybe because they’re under the sea or removed by agricultural processes. There is however no doubt but what the first farmers came here and these Skaill knives, carefully split beach pebbles, amazingly useful, represent their presence on the land 5000 years ago. These knives turn up in Deerness ploughed land, as do scraps of flint, the detritus from making blades and knives.
29. ‘‘Scarvataing’’ music, written by John Smith, and sung as the tune of Paraphrase 66 at Covenanters Memorial Services. Come to the Covenanters Memorial Service at the Covenanters’ Monument, at 7p.m on Sunday 31 July 2011 for an evening of remembrance of a tragic group who believed passionately in the rights of their cause.
30. John Stove’s (d1947 aged 93) illuminated address signed by office bearers of the Free Kirk.
31. Butter Churn and bowl – butter making was a vital skill and courses were held locally. Everything had to be scrupulously clean and great effort went into the whole process from milking to churning and shaping. The end product, and cheese, was a source of income and of barter with the local shops and vans. There’s a photo of the girls on such a course in the 1920s in the Exhibition.
32. Aerial photograph Deerness Stores/Co-op - a most important place in the parish of Deerness, where folk meet over their shopping, where news is exchanged, where the Post Office is, and where all the parish notices are displayed.
33. Cannonballs used for weights in Meal Mill – read the fascinating story of the Mill, put together by Innes & Grace Wylie nee Hepburn.
34. Message in a bottle – Elaine Eunson cast a message in a bottle into the sea at Halley Beach and 2 years later received a letter from Norway, from the boy who’d found the bottle with its message. It had crossed the ocean to land on a Norwegian shore, another chapter in the long Deerness connection with Norway.
35. Davy Eunson fiddle – made by Davy Eunson o Colster, a quiet man who made music, fished, made boats, was an artist and much else besides
36. Groat family on Copinsay – The Groat family was a large one, with 14 children. They lived in Deerness before moving to farm the island of Copinsay. A teacher was put to live on the island to teach the young Groats.
37. Triple christening photo – the 3 mothers are the 3 Hepburn sisters, grand-daughters of Mr & Mrs Groat. The minister presiding over this large christening is the Rev. Harold Mooney, who was minister of Deerness from 1929 to 1984 and presided over christenings, weddings and funerals of at least 3 generations of Deerness folk, a remarkable continuity of pastoral care.
38. Mystery Object - this black wooden figure was found at shore in early 1930s by Magnus Wylie. Its oriental origins are clear but what is it and how did it get to Deerness?
39. Grinding stone and rotary quern fragment – at a quarry in West Norway, at Hyllestad, along the Sognafiord, quern stones or grinding stones were made in vast quantities and shipped around the North Sea and Baltic coasts by Norsemen, until medieval times. Millstones like this were also made in Shetland but in much lesser numbers. There are 2 complete stones in this exhibition and an adapted fragment in one of the cases. 3 in one place suggest they come from a big rather than a small production centre i.e. Norway.
40. Midwifery records – Sarah o Tiffyha’ delivered many Deerness babies and this splendid record sets out who they all were. Her training was paid for by the people of Deerness and she helped 350 babies into the parish.
41. Harvey Johnstone’s poem to celebrate the installation of the Deerness Community Hall’s Eoltec wind turbine which generates the electricity the Hall uses and gives an income to the Hall from the Feed-in tariff payments received for the electricity made by the turbine, or tirlick.
42. Old Hall piano – the piano in the Mermaid Café is an old piano, moved from the Old Hall which stood on this site until 2001. The Old Hall went up in 1923, a World War 1 surplus hut, and it did sterling service to Deerness for many years. Its replacement is what you stand in now, funded by large amounts of local donations and Lottery funds amongst other sources.
43. Stone fossil – these are the oldest objects here, going deep into the geological past when Orkney and the rest of Britain was being formed. The Orkney Fossil Centre in Burray have loaned these Deerness fossils to us and to see more and learn more, pay the Fossil Centre a visit.
44. Deerness no longer has a primary school. A declining role saw it close in 1967 and Deerness’s children now do their primary schooling at the St Andrew’s School, in the next parish, about halfway to Kirkwall. Secondary schooling is at the Kirkwall Grammar School, in Kirkwall. This desk comes from the old Deerness School. The books behind it are prizes to pupils at the School and other memorabilia of attendance surround it. See also Jane Skea’s Fereday Project on the schools of Deerness.
45. Submarine barrier – this is part of a anti-submarine boom which stretched from roughly Halley across to the opposite shore in Tankerness, during World War 2.There is an extensive section on Deerness’s story in WW2 in ‘ Almost an Island’’.
46. Sea chart and old map of Deerness. Compare then with now and consider the perspective from the sea, the main road in and out and around Deerness, all of Orkney, for thousands of years.
47. Drawing by Isobel Gardner of the horse mill at Mirkady – an earlier technology where the horse plodded round and round the round building, creating the power to operate the mill
48. Caisie made of heather – for storing stuff, or carrying stuff and home-made and durable and long lasting. Makes you wonder why we stopped making such things.
49. Football – Parish Cup and medals – Bill Shankly reckoned football was more important than life and death and there have been times when that view has been shared in Deerness. Lots more information in the reference books in the centre of the Hall, and photos in the Mermaid Café.
50. Sails for boat made by Bill Foulis – you’ll also see at No 84 another product of Bill Foulis’s clever hands and head.
51. Grind Buses – for many years a feature of any run into Deerness was the collection of buses at Grind. They disappeared for breaking up last year but here are photographs of them in their working, heyday. [Grind, pronounced as in in, not as in mind ]
52. Dingieshowe – the mound on the isthmus into Deerness isn’t a Deerness mound, but, rather, lies in Toab which is part of the parish of St Andrews. It is however on the border between the two parishes and figures in tales and superstitions on both sides of the divide. Come to the Dingieshowe event in St Ninian’s Kirk at 7.30 p.m. on Wednesday 3 August and learn lots more. The photograph at No 52 is of the model whale for the film Venus Peter.
53. Rocking chair presented to Aitken family on leaving Newark. This is a beautiful chair which must have been very precious to the Aitkens who obviously cherished and cared for it greatly. A piece of furniture for ‘ben’ or the ben end, the sitting room, the parlour.
54. Deerness Cookbooks – an example of fundraising from the Deerness SWRI, one of Deerness’s most well-supported organisations and a source of very good recipes. Note that one of the books was a fund-raiser for the Deerness Community Hall – everyone got involved in its creation.
55. Nancy Scott’s dolls’ clothes – who needed Sindy’s expensive wardrobe when Nancy Scott could run up every bit as elegant, and totally unique, outfits? These were much sought after by a generation of Deerness girls, avid to be first at every Sale of Work to buy the latest from her sewing machine.
56. Young Farmers’ Club Shield – the Young Farmers was another feature of Deerness life from 1959 to 1998, a club for the youth of the parish to learn stock-judging, speechmaking, and put on concerts amongst much else.
57. Aslam – Deerness Drama Group is a vigorous parish group as the rest of this display amply demonstrates. The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe ran for 4 performances, 3 of which sold out on the first week that tickets were on sale, leading to a fourth performance. The bad weather of December 2010 meant some performances had to be reshuffled into January 2011, and despite the departure of key performers on long-booked holidays, the show went on.
58. Meg’s accordion – music is important in Orkney, like many of Scotland’s islands and this accordion belongs to Meg Harrold, aged 90, almost 91, who has been making music in Deerness all of her life. Look out for the Wrigley Sisters’ c.d. ‘’Huldreland’’ and the tune ‘’Meg’s Hornpipe’’ – yes, same Meg. And come and hear the Wrigleys, and Deerness performers, at the Concert in the Kirk on Wednesday 13TH July at 7.30p.m.
59. Rocket House & Coastguard photo – as you come into Deerness you pass a small white house, the Old Rocket House. It was from here that the rocket was fired to call the volunteer Coast Guard out, to rescue the crews of many vessels over the years. This photo is of the 1924 volunteers and there is another below of the men in the early 1960s team --- sons and grandsons and nephews of the 1924 team.
60. Record by Jimmock o Mirland – music is a theme of Deerness life and Deerness has produced some extremely talented musicians, some of whom have also been recorded, like this 78 of Jimmock o Mirland
61. The Soli – find out more in ‘Almost an Island’. Imagine the courage and anger that persuaded these young men to ship west from a Norway under Nazi rule, across the North Sea to land at Deerness. They were then questioned and investigated, to make sure they weren’t spies, and then they joined the British armed services and took up arms against their country’s invader.
62. Oldest sack in Deerness – from Noltland. Flour, grain, oatmeal, grass-seed would have been carried in these sacks: not plastic, not paper and recycled many times, mended and patched and cleaned, and it’s still here and looking pretty good after decades of use.
63. Copinsay Lighthouse plaque – taken out of the lighthouse when it stopped being a manned light. The Copinsay light was first lit in 1915 and continues to light the way for shipping nearly 100 years later.
64. Deerness Post Office scales – another fascinating object as you consider what parcels and packets they’ve sent out from Deerness over the years. The current Post office is in the Deerness Stores.
65. Magnus Spence ‘s ‘ Flora Orcadensis’, a comprehensive listing (no illustrations) of the Orkney flora which Spence pursued and studied. See ‘Almost an Island’ for more on Spence, a remarkable polymath. And schoolmaster to Deerness for many years.
66. Metal spinning wheel on loan from the Orkney Museum. Made in Deerness by Robert Dick, a most talented craftsman, at his smiddy at Keigar.
67. Bronze pot/urn discovered at Noltland – probably Medieval. But what for and where did it come from? Maybe from a wrecked ship? Ideas/ knowledge very welcome.
68. Ard from the excavations at Skaill, Deerness and on loan from the Orkney Museum. An ard or scratch plough is a type of simple plough. It consists of a frame mounting a nearly vertical wooden spike, which is dragged through the soil by draught animals. Rather than cutting and turning the soil to produce furrows, it breaks up a narrow strip of soil, leaving intervening strips undisturbed. Cross-ploughing is often used, where the soil is ploughed again at right angles to the original direction.
69. Tangle bench – see the notes at the bench and if you can , speak to Ronald Foubister, one of the Exhibition stewards, who can tell you lots more as he worked the tangles for a long time.
70. Picture of staigie and his travelling Deerness groom – stallion and handler. The staig or staigie had a job to do amongst the mares of Orkney and good blood lines were important to breed good horses, the powerhouses of 19th and pre World War 2 farming.
71. Iron Weighing scales from Noltland – like the bushel at No 23, the integrity of weights and measures was paramount
72. Communion token box, on loan from the Orkney Museum – the Church, the Kirk was an important part of parish life whether the Upper Kirk/Free Kirk or St Ninian’s/ Church of Scotland.
73. Bent grass chair – the back of this chair is made from bentie grass, not straw, and it is a beautiful piece of work. The grass is the blue/green grass which grows at the shore and is tough and scratchy, so not easy to work with. This chair was owned by a girl who gave birth to her first child, was then visited by a Doctor who had come from a scarlet fever case, and a few days later she and her child died.
74. Edwin Muir’s biography “The Story & the Fable” is here because he was born in Deerness and his subsequent story is in the obituaries displayed in the Exhibition. His mother was a Cormack and Muir has living relatives in Deerness.
75. Coins from the Chapel on the Brough of Deerness. In Jo Ben’s 1529 account of Deerness, he tells us that pilgrims came to the Chapel in their bare feet, ascending to the Chapel, praying. They then walked twice or 3 times round the chapel ‘’ with many incantations, throwing stones and water behind them.’’ These coins are of the 1600s and later so the ritual changed at some point, to leaving money. We don’t know why they came – pilgrim sites are normally associated with a particular cure or saint but the Deerness connection to whoever or why is lost to us. Curious too that the practice ended long after the Reformation and the end of Catholicism in Deerness – old habits and beliefs die hard.
76. Chair presented to Bonesetter – page 83 of ‘ Almost an Island’’ Where did he learn how to set bones? And in the days of doctors’ bills and little to pay them with, what a godsend to his patients.
77. Sperm whale tooth from a dead one which grounded Newark Bay in approx 1989. Whales and other cetaceans are periodically cast up on Deerness’s shores and nowadays we look for souvenirs from them but in the past a dead whale was a valuable resource and not much would have survived to decay into nothingness.
78. Scull for holding fishing line and hooks belonging to Davie Eunson o Colster – see also objects 35 and 79.
79. Davie Eunson corncrake carving - corncrakes have been heard in Deerness this summer again. They were a noisy feature of the arrival of summer – much anticipated, then the pleasure wore thin as they craked and croaked of an evening and early morning. Other Deerness birdcalls include those of whaups, teeicks and childricks
80. This is a Bronze Age quartz arrowhead found out at the Mull Head, and a most delicate and beautiful object made by a skilled craftsman who would have used it to hunt, perhaps waterfowl.
81. The hoe was used to single neeps i.e. to get rid of the weeds between growing swedes, Swedish turnips, grown for animal feed and a vital ingredient, with potatoes, in clapshot – look up the cookbooks at Object 54
82. Ship’s wheel from the Mashona – just one of Deerness’s herring fishing boats. There is a photograph of the crew of the Mashona on page 65 of ‘Almost an Island’. Mashona is the name of an African people and the use of their name in the early 20th Century stemmed from the news of the Zulu Wars and the Boer War .
83. Brass, rope splicing tool – tools were precious and carefully looked after, particularly beautiful objects like this.
84. Coal chisel – a mason’s chisel, belonging to a Hepburn o Millhouse. Not only were the masons of Deerness local men, but the stone they built with came form quarries across the parish and from the shore and cliffs. Out at the Gloup and along from Sandside, the process of splitting flagstones from the cliff is very clear to see. Stone also came for older buildings and stone from the big houses at Newark and Sandside is easily spotted in their smaller successors and outbuildings.
85. Threshing machine model – a remarkable model built by Deerness man, Bill Foulis.
86. Orkney Crystal glass – by Stuart Wylie of Deerness. Visit his website at www.orkneycrystal.com
87. Egg boxes – these are egg boxes from Deerness’s current egg businesses. During World War 2 Orkney’s eggs were a valuable commodity and posted south to ration-bound Britain and the income from eggs and the other commodities grown and raised by Orkney’s farmers fed the thousands of servicemen and women and support staff stationed in and around Scapa Flow.
88. Cheese press - another farm product, made by just about every farmer’s wife as a basic of the family’s diet, along with butter and bannocks, and rhubarb jam
89. Cruisie lamp from Deerness on loan from the Orkney Museum – pre paraffin and electricity, oil lamps like these provide light in the low, dark houses of Orkney. The open fire would also have cast light around but by comparison to today’s big windows and electric light, the gloom of winter, spring and autumn must have been difficult. No wonder folk lived by the sun, rather than the clock and slept in the dark, worked in the daylight.
90. Ship’s compass and quadrant belonging to a retired sea Captain. Many Deerness men over the centuries have gone ot sea, either fishing locally or wider afield in the merchant or Royal Navy. The men of the sea could read the sea like we read the land, and knew the moons and tides with a deep and vital knowledge.
91. Old tin bath – no running water. All carried up from the well for drinking, or rainwater gathered in tanks, off the roof. Woe betide a dry summer when the well went dry and water had to be obtained from deeper wells on someone else’s land. What did you do if you were old or ill? You needed your neighbours and family and friends then.
92. Beating stone for beating leather for shoe-making – to make boots or shoes, the leather had to be prepared first for working and this was how it was done. It wasn’t a case just of getting the bits to cut and sew together.
93. Pottery – this pottery is from one of Deerness’s brochs and is heavy, sturdy stuff but with some decoration so is not simply utilitarian. This pottery was made in Deerness and used around 500 B.C.
94. Victorian mourning clothes – see also the photograph up to your right and read the seamstress’s story. The skill in making these pieces is astonishing and needs to be considered in the context of no electric light, hand powered sewing machine and the serious health problems this waifish girl clearly suffered from.
95. Tennessee chair– rescued from the Tennessee, like object 8 and here to demonstrate the remarkable story of the salvage of the Tennessee’s contents and cargo. You have to admire the salvage operation which rescued this fine thing and need to consider the bounty a wreck which could be reached, out of the eyes of authority, brought to the islands and sea-girt parishes of Orkney.
96. This Deerness School bell rang many bairns in and out of school.
97. Certificate of the fire at Aikerskaill – the poem by William Delday at p264 of ‘Almost an Island’ tells the tale of the fire at Aikerskaill and there is information below the charred beam. It was a dreadful event but everyone survived to tell the tale.
98. Opera glasses/binocular presented to the Bonesetter as another thank you for his skill and his care of Deerness’s residents. The curiosity here is the term ‘opera glasses’
99. Fereday projects – Ray Fereday was a History teacher at Kirkwall Grammar School and Orkney Heritage Society runs an annual competition for school pupils to produce a local history project. It is well taken-up and there are several projects here for you to read and enjoy.
100. Earthship plans – in 2010 a project was begun by the Sutcliffes, to build an earthship at Pictail. Have a look at the plans for this remarkable project and ponder the incredible range of objects and stories and human endeavour represented by this whole Exhibition of objects and stories from a tiny place, out on the edge, but right in the thick o