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Skaill House, Orkney

Skaill House is Orkney’s biggest mansion house. It overlooks the Bay of Skaill and in its grounds were discovered the remains of the neolithic village of Skara Brae (see earlier posts.) Since the ticket for Skara Brae also conferred entry to the house we had a look round.

Skaill House from path from Skara Brae:-

Skaill House, Orkney

Skaill House Entrance:-

Skaill House Entrance

Skaill House, cartouche above entrance:-

Skaill House Cartouche Above Entrance

Skaill House Library:-

Skaill House Library

Skaill House Library circular window. This is the window you can see in the rightmost part of the house in the first photograph above:-

Skaill House Library Circular Window

Skaill House Library, books:-

Skaill House Library, Books

Skaill House, framed crest and flags. The flag and naval ensign surmounting crest of Imperial Germany:-

Skaill House Framed Crest and Flags

Skaill House Armada Chest. Many of the ships from the Spanish Armada made their way up round the top of Great Britain (and Orkney) and were wrecked. Some settled in Orkney:-

Skaill House Armada Chest

On one of his voyages Captain Cook’s ship landed at Stromness, and he was entertained at Skaill House. His dinner service from the Resolution was acquired later by the house and can be seen in the press (cupboard) to the left in the photo below:-

Skaill House Captain Cook's Dinner Service

One of the house’s past owners had a model of St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, built for him and it sits behind glass in a bedroom:-

Skaill House Model of Saint Magnus Cathedral

A son of the house was involved in the British intervention in Russia after the second Revolution of 1917. Photographs and other memorabilia:-

Skaill House Memorabilia of Russia

Skara Brae, Orkney (iii)

Just at the beginning of the path from the Visitor Centre to the Skara Brae excavations there is a modern mock up of what the neolithic houses at the site may have looked like.

Entrance to Mock Skara Brae House:-

Entrance to Mock Skara Brae House

Internal Passage:-

Internal Passage Skara Brae Mock Up

I doubt the original houses had the electric light fitting!:-

Skara Brae Mock Up Passage

Mock up bed:-

Skara Brae Mock Up Bed

Mock Up Ceiling:-

Skara Brae Mock Up Ceiling

Mock up, hearth and dresser:-

Skara Brae Mock Up Hearth and Dresser

Skara Brae, Orkney (ii)

General scene of excavated houses – tourist path in background:-

Excavated Houses, Skara Brae, Orkney

Stone dresser:-

Stone Dresser, Skara Brae, Orkney

Excavated path:-

Skara Brae Excavation

More excavations:-

More Excavation Skara Brae

Neolithic Construction Skara Brae

This has no beds nor dresser and so it is believed to be a neolithic workshop, photo taken from west. The beach at Skaill Bay is visible to left (in Skara Brae’s heyday the sea was much further out) Skaill House in background:-

Neolithic Workshop, Skara Brae, from West

Neolithic Workshop from North, Skaill House in background:-

Neolithic Workshop, Skara Brae, from North

Neolithic workshop from East:-

Neolithic Workshop, Skara Brae, from East

Skara Brae, Orkney (i)

After settling in at Stromness for the night, the neolithic village of Skara Brae, on the shores of Skaill Bay (or Bay o’ Skaill,) was the first place we visited on Orkney. Ever since I heard about it Skara Brae was somewhere I always wanted to visit so I was delighted to be able to.

It was mobbed with people though, only to be expected I suppose.

Early houses:-

Skara Brae Early Houses 1

Skara Brae, Early Houses 2

Passage to a house entrance:-

House Entrance, Skara Brae, Orkney

An excavated house, Skara Brae Visitor Centre in left background, modern day Skaill House in right background:-

Neolithic House at Skara Brae,Orkney

Neolithic house with stone dresser:-

Neolithic House with Stone Dresser, Skara Brae, Orkney

Neolithic house entrance:-

House Entrance, Skara Brae

A passage between houses:-

Passage Between Houses, Skara Brae, Orkney

Kitchener Memorial, Marwick Head, Orkney

We were motoring more or less up the west coast of mainland Orkney after visiting Skara Brae and Skaill House (of which more later) when I saw an imposing tower on a hill top overlooking the sea. Then I spotted a brown (site of interest) signpost saying “Kitchener Memorial” pointing off the road towards it. I immediately turned onto the one-track road indicated.

Kitchener made his name at the Battle of Omdurman – machine guns against spears; not an equal contest – during the punitive expedition against the Mahdi after his followers (Dad’s Army‘s “fuzzy-wuzzies”) killed General Gordon at Khartoum. He later took over the conduct of the South African War (the Second Boer War) instituting the measures that made sure the Boers could not live off the land, by taking their supporters/suppliers into the original concentration camps, before becoming head of the army and featuring on the famous Great War recruiting poster.

I knew Kitchener had been drowned at sea when the ship carrying him on a mission to Russia, HMS Hampshire, hit a mine recently laid by a German submarine but hadn’t realised it had been so close to Orkney. I also hadn’t known the memorial was there so this was a serendipitous discovery.

We managed to squeeze into a space at the very small car park and contemplated the long walk up to the memorial. I discovered later that the memorial lies on Marwick Head, the westernmost point of mainland Orkney. This Vickers pattern 31b Recoil Mk 2 gun salvaged from the deck of HMS Hampshire lay at the beginning of the path:-

Deck Gun from HMS Hampshire

Memorial from path at top of cliff:-

Kitchener Memorial, Orkney From Path

Memorial close:-

Kitchener Memorial

Kitchener Memorial Plaque:-

Kitchener Memorial Inscription

Much more recently a memorial wall to those who died on HMS Hampshire has been erected on the site. This shows its proximity to the Kitchener Memorial:-

HMS Hampshire Memorial Wall

Unfortunately the memorialised names do not stand out well in this photo:-

HMS Hampshire Memorial Wall

The HMS Hampshire memorial wall also commemorates the HM Drifter Laurel Crown lost off Marwick Head in June 1916:-

HMS Hampshire + HMS Laurel Crown Memorial

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