Tuesday, 13 October 2015

May, 2015 - ORKNEY ISLANDS #1

We had our a good sail from Fair Isle to Kirkwall, in the Orkney Islands.  Mostly a beat but at least we were sailing.  We were going to one of the nearer Islands, but were making such good time we decided to go all the way, arriving at 21:44 hours.

Sandra's ancestors came from the Orkney Islands so this was a special stop for us.  The local Historical Society were very helpful and directed us to the house that the GGGGGrandfather was born in.  It is still standing and is still occupied!

Our route from Fair Isle to the Orkney Islds.

 The Orkney's are full of history, much related to Canada, as this was the main recruiting center for the Hudson's Bay Co.  A Hudson's Bay Physician/explorer, John Rae explored much of the Canadian Arctic on foot.  He discovered the fate of the Franklin expedition and reported that they had resorted to cannibalism.   Lady Franklin was very upset by this and managed to have him blacklisted from "society".  Only now is he being recognized for his remarkable achievements.

John Rae's tomb in Kirkwell.
 During WWI the warship carrying Lord Kitchener to Russia hit a mine and sank off the Orkney's.  Very few were saved, due in part to officials stopping rescue operations, fearing that secret papers might be found.  The monument below overlooks the remote location where the ship sank.

After a particularly violent storm a 5000 year old village was uncovered.  It had 5 residences and one workshop, all interconnected.  It was constructed half underground, a testament to the weather here.

Copy of one of the residences.

Remains of  a residence.
The Orkney's are home to at least two stone rings.  They are truly impressive.  One of the stones was split by lightning.

It was a bit weird that we were driving in the footsteps of an ancestor.  The family was from a village (Gas Station/Store) called Stenness.  He was born in a house in 1775 that still is still standing and occupied, "Quoy House".

Quoy House.

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