Back to Orkney
This is the twelfth post from my Orkney trip, and I’m not finished yet by quite a long way. Considering we were only there for a week, you are maybe starting to understand just how much history there is to investigate in this amazing place – and so far this has all been on the Mainland, only one of Orkney’s 70 odd islands!
Skaill House is the finest 17th Century mansion in Orkney, and home of the man who unearthed Skara Brae in 1850. Once you have finished marvelling at the incredibly well preserved Neolithic site, you have only to walk a few hundred metres to enter a totally different era.
Built in 1620, ‘Skaill’ is the Old Norse word for hall, and with many of the farmsteads in the area bearing Norse names, it seems likely this was a very active Viking community. Part of the house stands on a pre-Norse burial ground, and plenty of Iron Age remains dot the landscape locally, once again emphasising the depth of history the area is steeped in.
The first Laird of Skaill was the son of Bishop George Graham, who was by all accounts a genial man, ‘generous to the poor and accused of being too lenient to witches and lax on adultery and incest. These charges led to him being forced to resign his position in 1638’. (https://skaillhouse.co.uk/the-house/the-lairds-of-skaill/) His official residence was in the Earl’s Palace in Kirkwall, but like so many senior clergy of the time, he’d accumulated a considerable property portfolio including Skaill House, which passed to his eldest son on his death in 1643.
Last occupied in 1991, the house was opened to the public in 1997, and also houses self-catering apartments if you fancy a stay. It is presented much as the family home it was in the 1950s,
Sadly I don’t have as many photographs as usual, as I somehow managed to wipe them from the camera memory without first saving them to the laptop. Duh.
An example of an Orkney Chair – unique pieces of furniture only produced on the islands, at not inconsiderable cost due to the time necessary to weave each individual hand-made chair.
I’m sure by now you are starting to get the idea – unless you are only interested in the modern day, there is pretty much something for everyone to see on Orkney!