Low Tide: 16:14
The second trip was out to Skerries on Friday the 13th of April. The group met at Vidlin for the 11am ferry out to Skerries. As the Filla was away for maintenance, the Fivla was standing in which is usually on the Bluemull Sound route. The crossing took just over an hour with the ferry coming in the Sooth Mooth entrance. As there was only a few hours, the group focused on Sooth Mooth starting at the pier and walking round to Bessi Holm. There was a few interesting jetties and piers around the bay, with fishing stations situated either side. Out Skerries: An Island Community by Joan Dey has a great map detailing many of the interesting sites around Skerries. We spent some time looking at Bayview which was a former fishing station and comparing it to the station in Papa Stour we had been looking at the week before.
SCAPE has a structure marked on Bessi Holm so the group navigated across the storm beach and had a look at the remains using the SCAPE app to update the record. From here the group headed up to South Ward to look at the remains of the 20th century coastguard lookout which were common across many of the outer islands in Shetland.
Another interesting feature is the Battle Pund which was used to settle feuds in single combat. The pund is still marked out by boulders but it is no longer used for its intended purpose!
As we were making our way back to the ferry, we began chatting to a local resident who showed us his shed which had been used by the gutters during the herring fishing. Some of the gutters had scribed their names and where they were from which was really interesting to see.
Low Tide: 06:06 (West Burrafirth)
So the first field trip of the project was out to Papa Stour on Wednesday 4th of April. It was a fine sunny day but still a bit chilly in the wind. Helen and I met in West Burrafirth before taking the 30 minute crossing to Papa Stour where we were met by Peter. We decided to head out to Hamna Voe in the morning which sits just below the airstrip. The first thing we noticed was the meal road leading down to the head of the voe. Meal roads were tracks built in the 19th century as part of a famine relief scheme across the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Meal (flour) was given as payment for creating these roads which often were not a necessity to avoid the stigma of taking charity. Papa Stour’s examples are well preserved due to the fact they were built for small carts and so it would not have been easy to develop for motor vehicles which is what happened to many of the other meal roads in the 20th century. Around Wast Hoop, there are a series of “briggs” crossing over small burns which are getting eroded. We spent some time sketching and photographing these before taking a quick look at the horizontal mills which were powered by water from Dutch Loch. Although the mills are not strictly coastal, they were part of island life and are really excellent examples which are scheduled monuments.
From here we headed south along the coast, noting a small ruined building which potentially was a fishing lodge before arriving at the remains of a fishing station. We spent some time photographing, sketching and measuring the large house known as Hamnavoe Hoose which was owned and run by Mr Thomas M. Adie & Sons who were based in Voe on the mainland. Peter noted the skill used to build the house with marks left from where it had been split. Below the house sits the remains of a smaller rougher building which has an unusually wide door way. Potentially it was a store or may have been a skeo which were buildings used to dry fish. The upper storey of Hamnavoe Hoose has some red brick detail which must have been added at a later date. At the back of Hamnavoe Hoose are the remains of croft buildings which are of a far rougher construction. In more recent times a sheep dip has been constructed using concrete within the walls of the former buildings. The beach below Hamnavoe Hoose would have been ideal for drying fish and the voe itself is a good anchorage.
As we headed back up towards the airstrip, dark clouds began to roll in from the west. Luckily we were able to shelter at Peter’s house and enjoy some lovely soup as it snowed for nearly an hour! There is also a small boatie shed at Peter’s house which was really interesting to look at.
The short time left in the afternoon before the ferry left around 4pm was spent looking at a potential broch being washed out of the banks between Sunna Skerry and Boinna Skerry in Housa Voe. There are also a number of sites directly behind which were similar in appearance with the consensus of the group that rather than a broch it could potentially be another house site being eroded out.
The first newsletter for the project is now available. The first edition includes some information about the skills workshop held in February, the upcoming field trips to the isles and the archives day, and another exciting project looking at maritime heritage in Shetland and Orkney!
You can download the newsletter here.
The Shetland Rural Islands Maritime Heritage Asset Atlas Project is a exciting new project that has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project aims to look at the both the physical and intangible maritime heritage found in Fair Isle, Foula, Papa Stour and Skerries over the next few months. There will be opportunities to get out to the islands to do survey work, collect and record peoples stories and memories and there will be workshops offering the opportunity to learn and improve skills in recording heritage, photography and archival research.
The end goal of the project is to create an asset atlas that details some of the physical structures that have been recorded and the linked intangible heritage. The book will be available for free online or in print for a small price. Any data collected will be available online for anybody to use and will be given to the Shetland Museum and Archives as well.
If you are interested in getting involved as an individual or a group please fill in a contact form or email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org .You can also keep up to date with the project through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, links can be found on the homepage.