Monday, 19 January 2015

A Tale of Survival

Once upon a time there was a church in Stronsay...

In 1861 the congregation carried out some renovation work on the interior of the church. They built a new pilaster desk for the minister something like this perhaps....
In this desk they hid something, a piece of paper. On this piece of paper they wrote:

"The Parish Church of Stronsay built in 1835 during the ministry of Rev'd John Simpson, has been, during the current year, 1861, being the 15th year of the ministry of Rev Joseph Caskey, extensively altered and repaired, at the expense of the members of the congregation.
Church of Stronsay
Rev Joseph Caskey, Minister
Scollay Skethway, Elder
Robert Larmonth, do [ditto]
Thomas Sinclair, do [ditto]
John Forbes, do [ditto]
Robert Leslie, do [ditto]
George Peace, do [ditto]
Stronsay 14th September 1861. This document deposited on the top of pilaster on Precentor's Desk this fourteenth day of September 1861 by John Forbes, Parish Schoolmaster and Elder of the Church in Stronsay."


In 1896 the pilaster desk was removed and the note was found inside. We know this because there is a second note on the paper which reads:

"This document was found in the above mentioned place on the removal of the Presenter's Desk and formation of a choir seat in front of the pulpit on the eighth day of December 1896. The congregation at this time have subscribed about £25 for this alteration and to purchase an Harmonium, this being the first introduction of instrumental music in this church. Rev Joseph Caskey is minister this being his jubilee. Signed James Chalmers, joiner."


In 1946 the farm of Linkshouse in Stronsay changed hands and the new owner went into the church which was in one of his fields and found the note by the pulpit.


In 1958 the note was posted back to Stronsay in an envelope from Dundee!?!.


In 2014 the note was kindly gifted to the Orkney Archive where it will live happily ever after.

The End

Archive Reference: D1/1184

Monday, 5 January 2015

A Pinch and a Punch, 'Tis a Rubbish Month

When trying to sum up how we felt about being back at work today after all of our festivities, all we could muster was a collective 'bleeergh'. Oh January, you are tough.

We'll leave it to George Mackay Brown to describe this month in this excerpt from a 1972 column for the Orcadian:

January is the month when for a morning or two you expect to wake up with a dry mouth at least.
January is the month when you observe, sadly, six of your seven good resolutions blow away on the cold wind.
January is the month you dismantle-on a precise date, the sixth - the Christmas tree and give all those expensive Christmas cards to the children to scrawl on with their crayons.
January is the month when bills seem to seep through your letter box with pitiless monotony. The man who was as rich as Rockefeller on Christmas Eve is poor now as a church mouse.
January is the month when you wait for the worst of the winter to fall, sleet and hail and snow out of the north-east. You kind of exist between an iron earth and a leaden sky.
January is the month when the full moon is most glorious of all (although I think the stars have it, for December).
There is no month of the year quite like January. What is better than a walk along the west shore in that cold, silver air?
George Mackay Brown
The rest of the entry can be found in Letters From Hamnavoe, columns written for The Orcadian  between 1971 and 1975.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

The 12 Seals of Christmas #12

Hooray! It is Christmas Eve! We've had 20 mini Celebrations already and have sang 'Mistletoe & Wine' to each other at least thrice.

Today's lovely seal is taken from our Baikie of Tankerness collection. It is another burgess and guild brother ticket, this time for the Burgh of Aberdeen. It was presented to James Baikie of Tankerness on the 5th September 1733.

We thought it looked particularly festive with it's swishy red ribbon and we like that the seal itself looks like a jammy dodger.

Merry Christmas !

Oh! We almost forgot! Here's a final festive treat for you. Old, waxy seals are not the only kind of seal you know. There is the singing kind as well. Enjoy:

Orkney Archive reference: D24/9/122

Sunday, 21 December 2014

The 12 Seals of Christmas #11

Our penultimate seasonal seal is taken from our Sheriff Court collection. It is taken from an envelope (with no letter within) which is addressed to James Robertson. No date or other information are available.

It is a lovely, simple seal with nymph-like creatures either side of a shield with urns on their heads and garlands around their waists.

Orkney Archive reference: SC/11/86/12/2a/29

Friday, 19 December 2014

The 12 Seals of Christmas #10

Still seals, but this time, they are sketches of Orcadian seals made by Hugh Marwick.

Mr Marwick was a Rousay born historian, archaeologist and teacher.  He was rector of Kirkwall Grammar School for 15 years and published works on Orcadian place names which we still use constantly in the archive.He was born in 1881 and died in 1965.

We like to draw seals too.

Orkney Archive Reference D29/2/3

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

The 12 Seals of Christmas #9

Another Royal Seal today, that of George II. This, quite frankly enormous, seal is attached to a gift of £200 per year out of the rents and revenues of the Bishopric of Orkney. The recipient was Sholto Charles Douglas, Lord Aberdour. The document is dated 26th February 1754.
According to the National Archive's wonderful Currency Converter, this would be a yearly income equivalent to £14,958 in 2005's money.
Orkney Archive Reference: D38/2323

Monday, 15 December 2014

The 12 Seals of Christmas #8

Ooooh, this one is a beauty! Taken from a certificate of admittance to the fraternity of Masters and Seamen of Dundee, it is still a lovely, rich red and has a crisp 'dundee' printed underneath an image of a ship.

And look, the ribbon threads right through the certificate.Why does this excite us so? Ahh yes, because we are nerds.


SEAL:  Ooh, the more I get of you, the stranger it feels, yeah!
And now that your rose is in bloom,
A light hits the gloom on the gray!

ARCHIVER: (Grabbing the microphone)Now that your rose is in bloooooom,
A light hits the gloooooom ooooon theeee graaaaay....

DUSTY: (softly) Ba-da-da, ba-da-da-da-da-daaaaaa

Orkney Archive Reference: D28/4/2/3

Saturday, 13 December 2014

The 12 Seals of Christmas #7

Taken from the Baikie of Tankerness collection, this seal is sadly incomplete. It is, however, totally awesome as it bears the crowned head of a king with sword arm aloft.

SEAL: (grudgingly) That is pretty cool.

Orkney Archive Reference; D24/3/105

Friday, 12 December 2014

Stop & Bop

It is most definitely time for a Friday Bop. The hideous weather (we had THREE DAYS of thunder and lightning and it is STILL rubbish today) demands it.

But we're all sick of Christmas songs already right? And yet this kind of weather creates a need for something seasonal and at the same time heart-warming and jolly doesn't it?

What could fit the bill?!


Oh let's just stop work altogether and listen to Aztec Camera all day long:

Thursday, 11 December 2014

The 12 Seals of Christmas #6

Our sixth festive seal is taken from a charter dated 1594 by George Balfour and is in Scots.

We quite like it because it reminds us a bit of a jam tart.

SEAL: *high-pitched voice* We quite like it 'cos it's like a jam tart!

SEAL: I could have given you so much Orkney Archive. Remember this bad boy? Of course you do, everyone does, it's a flippin' CLASSIC:

Orkney Archive Reference: D1/1030/3

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The 12 Seals of Christmas #5

Three Seals at once!

Orkney Archive Reference D1/1030/1 is a Charter dated 1566 by Alexander Deik, provost of the Cathedral of Orkney,in favour of Gilbert Balfour of certain lands in South Ronaldsay. The document is in Latin.

It looks like two seals belonging to Adam Bothwell, then Bishop of Orkney, have been attached.

SEAL: Has Adam Bothwell been married to a supermodel? I doubt it! Amateurs.

ARCHIVER & DUSTY: *soothingly* Shhhhhhhh. Hush now.

Orkney Archive Reference: D1/1030/1

Sunday, 7 December 2014

The 12 seals of Christmas #4

A Royal Seal this time, that of King Charles II to be exact. It is attached to a charter of ratification in favour of Henry Graham of Breckness, confirming his lands in Stromness, Sandwick, Orphir and Kirkwall and St Ola.

The date is April 1669 and, like most of these documents, the material is vellum. The seal is known as the Virginia Seal.

SEAL: Have any of your stupid seals ever performed at a ROYAL Variety Show?!!

ARCHIVER: *patiently* No, Seal.

Orkney Archive Reference: D3/419/5

Friday, 5 December 2014

The 12 Seals of Christmas #3

SEAL: I've told my mum about how you tricked me and she says it's really unfair!

ARCHIVER: Not now Seal. We're working.

SEAL: Yeah, working at ruining others' self -esteem...

ARCHIVER: Oh come now, have a Twix.


Today's fab seal is another burgess ticket, this time for the burgh of Wick in favour of Robert Baikie of Tankerness. The date is 4th November 1878.

The Wick seal is lovely, a wee townscape of buildings beside the shore.

Orkney Archive Reference: D24/9/131