Sanday, Orkney

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Sanday
Norse nameSandey [1] [2]
Meaning of nameOld Norse: sand island [3]
Over Tresness, Isle of Sanday. - geograph.org.uk - 231965.jpg
An aerial view of the southern coast of Sanday, looking west. Tres Ness and Conninghole are in the foreground.
Location
Orkney Islands UK relief location map.jpg
Red pog.svg
Sanday
Sanday shown within Orkney
OS grid reference HY677411
Coordinates 59°15′N2°33′W / 59.25°N 2.55°W / 59.25; -2.55
Physical geography
Island group Orkney
Area5,043 ha (19.5 sq mi) [3]
Area rank21 [4]
Highest elevationThe Wart 65 m (213 ft) [5]
Administration
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Country Scotland
Council area Orkney Islands
Demographics
Population494 [6]
Population rank22 [4]
Population density9.8 people/km2 [3] [6]
Largest settlementLady
Lymphad3.svg
References [7]

Sanday is one of the inhabited islands of Orkney that lies off the north coast of mainland Scotland. With an area of 50.43 square kilometres (19.5 sq mi), [3] it is the third largest of the Orkney Islands. [8] The main centres of population are Lady Village and Kettletoft. Sanday can be reached by Orkney Ferries or by plane from Kirkwall on the Orkney Mainland. On Sanday, an on-demand public minibus service allows connecting to the ferry.

Contents

Etymology

The Picts were the pre-Norse inhabitants of Sanday but very few placenames remain from this period. [9] The Norse named the island Sandey [2] or Sand-øy [3] because of the predominance of sandy beaches and this became "Sanday" during the Scots and English speaking periods. The similarly named Sandoy is in the Faroe Islands.

Many names of places and natural features derive from Old Norse. According to Dorward (1995), the placename Kettletoft means "Kettil's croft" [10] although "toft" in this context may mean ""abandoned site of house" from the Norse topt. [11] The suffix -bister found in Sellibister and Overbister is from bólstaðr meaning "dwelling" or "farm". [11] Other common suffixes are -wick and -ness from the Norse vik and nes and meaning "bay" and "headland" respectively. [12] According to Frances Groome, Otterswick was originally known as Odinswic. [13]

Geography and geology

Sanday lies south of North Ronaldsay and east of Eday and Westray. It is divided naturally into two roughly equal halves by Otterswick, a bay which runs in from the north, and Kettletoft Bay in the south. The narrow isthmus between them formed the boundary between the historic parishes Cross and Burness to the west and Lady to the east. [14] The novelist Eric Linklater described Sanday's shape seen from the air as being like that of a giant fossilised bat. [3]

Changing post-glacial sea levels will have much altered the shape of this low-lying island since the last ice age. William Traill described a gale in 1838 which removed 20 hectares (49 acres) of sand in Otterswick Bay. This revealed a dark layer of decayed vegetation under fallen trees up to 60 centimetres (24 in) in diameter. The trees lay "as if felled by a storm" and were visible under the sea for 6.5 kilometres (4.0 mi). A search for these tree remains in the 20th century was unsuccessful. [15]

Inland it is fertile and agricultural and there is some commercial lobster fishing. The underlying geology is predominantly Devonian sediments of the Rousay flagstone group with Eday sandstone in the south east. [16]

There are several small bodies of freshwater on the island including North Loch, Bea Loch near Kettletoft and Roos Loch on the Burness peninsula. [5]

Prehistory

Quoyness chambered cairn Quoyness Chambered Cairn - geograph.org.uk - 86230.jpg
Quoyness chambered cairn

The Neolithic Quoyness chambered cairn, dates from around 2900 BC. An arc of Bronze Age mounds surrounds this cairn on the Elsness peninsula. [17] A large man-made mound at Pool was excavated in the 1980s. This indicated a Neolithic structure made of turf or burnt peat, a later pre-Viking sub-circular structure with pavings and cells, and a Viking stone and turf rectangular building dated to the late 8th or early 9th century. Various implements were also discovered including pre-Norse hipped pins and pottery from both the pre-Viking and Norse periods. A predominance of fish and animal bones suggests the site was used for meat processing. [18] Storms in January 2005 exposed a Bronze Age burnt burial mound at Meur. [19] There are several ruined Iron Age brochs on the island such as the Broch of Wasso, a 5-metre-high (16 ft) mound at Tres Ness. [20]

The Scar dragon plaque found in 1991 Scar Plaque, Scar Viking boat burial, Sanday, Orkney.jpg
The Scar dragon plaque found in 1991

The nature of the culture that built the brochs remains a matter of debate [21] but it is known that later Iron Age Orkney was part of the Pictish kingdom and from at least the mid-6th century onwards that Christianity had spread to the islands. [22] However, the archeological record for this period is sparse [23] and little is known of life on Sanday at this time beyond that which can be assumed from a knowledge of Pictish society elsewhere. The local heritage centre shows a Pictish decorated stone showing a cross.

History

Orkney became part of the Scandinavian polity from perhaps the 9th century onwards. In 1991 the Scar boat burial was discovered on the coast of Sanday near Burness. This Norse-era vessel, which had been 6.5-metre (21 ft) long and 1.5-metre (4.9 ft) wide, had rotted away, leaving more than 300 iron rivets. [24] The enclosure, dated to 875950 AD, was found to contain the remains of a man, a woman, and a child, along with numerous grave goods. These included a sword, quiver with arrows, bone comb, gaming pieces and the Scar dragon plaque, made from whale bone. [24] [25]

During the medieval period Sanday had 36 ouncelands, which may have been divided into two 'huseby' districts for taxation purposes with Lady to the east forming a unit with Stronsay and Cross and Burness to the west being combined with Eday and other isles to the west and north. [14] The main farm for the western district may have been located between Pool Bay and Warsetter at a site called Housay that is now just a mound. [26]

In the mid-17th century an annexe to Blaeu's Atlas Novus of Scotland recorded that Sanday's low lying topography meant that "shipwreck often occurs to those who sail there at night. The inhabitants of Sanday earnestly and often desire this to happen, so that they get a supply of material for fire from the wrecked ships". The writer went on to state that the lack of peat meant that dried seaweed was "saved like treasure" for cooking fires and that only the better-off citizens could afford to bring peat from Eday "over the most fearful sea". [27]

The ruins of the "model farm" at Stove Stove model farm - geograph.org.uk - 230874.jpg
The ruins of the "model farm" at Stove

Writing in the early 18th century, the Rev. John Brand described island life thus:

"Both Men and Women are fashionable in their cloths, no Men here use Plaids, as they do in our Highlands;In the North Isles of Sanda Westra &c. Many of the Countrey People wear a piece of a Skin, as of a Scale, comonly called a Selch, Calf or the lik. for Shoes, which they fasten to their Feet with stringes or thongs of Leather. Their Houses are in good order, and well furnished, according to their qualities. They generally speak English." [28] [note 1]

The now defunct Sanday Light Railway Sanday Light Railway - geograph.org.uk - 86228.jpg
The now defunct Sanday Light Railway

As part of the agricultural improvement movement of the 19th century the brothers Malcolm and Samuel Laing created a "New Model Farm" near the Loth ferry terminal at the south end of the island. They introduced merino sheep, and the ruins of the steam engine house and the red-brick chimney and boiler house are still visible. Although such innovations brought increased productivity and were widely copied in Orkney they also impoverished the substantial population of landless cottars who were increasingly marginalised. [29] [30]

During World War II, the Royal Air Force built a Chain Home radar station at Whale Head near Lop Ness. [31] This necessitated the building of a large camp at Langamay to house the military personnel, which incorporated a cinema. [30]

Sanday also once boasted the most northerly passenger railway in the United Kingdom, a privately owned rideable miniature installation near Braeswick, the Sanday Light Railway. [32]

Start Point Lighthouse

Start Point Lighthouse
Start Point light.jpg
Start Point Lighthouse in 2007
Orkney Islands UK relief location map.jpg
Lighthouse icon centered.svg
Orkney
LocationStart Point
Sanday
Orkney
Scotland
United Kingdom
Coordinates 59°16′39″N2°22′33″W / 59.277431°N 2.375906°W / 59.277431; -2.375906
Year first constructed1806 (first)
Year first lit1870 (current)
Automated1962
Constructionstone tower
Tower shapecylindrical tower with balcony and lantern
Markings / patternwhite and black vertical stripes tower, black lantern, ochre trim
Tower height25 metres (82 ft)
Focal height24 metres (79 ft)
Light sourcesolar power
Range24 nautical miles (44 km; 28 mi)
Characteristic Fl (2) W 20s.
Admiralty numberA3718
NGA number3276
ARLHS numberSCO-225
Managing agentNorthern Lighthouse Board [33] [34]
Heritagecategory B listed building  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg

Start Point lighthouse on Sanday was completed on 2 October 1806 by engineer Thomas Smith (engineer). It was the first Scottish lighthouse to have a clockwork-driven revolving parabolic reflector creating a sweeping beam. The reflector was later replaced by a Fresnel lens. In 1870 the lighthouse was rebuilt. Since 1915, it has been painted by distinctive black and white vertical stripes which are unique in Scotland. The light was automated in 1962 and is powered by a bank of 36 solar panels. [35]

Despite the presence of the lighthouse, HMS Goldfinch was wrecked in fog on Start Point in 1915. [36]

Current island activities

Sanday boasts two golf courses: a 9-hole links course of 2,600 yards run by Sanday Golf Club and the one-hole meadowland "Peedie Golf Course" of 57 yards (52.1 m) (believed to be Scotland's shortest) at West Manse. [37]

In 2004, three wind turbines with an installed capacity of 8.25 Megawatts were erected by Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) at Spurness. [38] [39] Sanday Community Council successfully negotiated a wind farm community fund with SSE which will be benefitting the people of the island for the lifetime of the turbines, anticipated to be 20 to 25 years. [40] By 2012, these wind turbines were replaced by 5 newer ones by Scottish and Southern Energy. This installation also generates income intended to benefit the people in Sanday, on the one hand via grants distributed by the Sanday Community Council and on the other by financing the Sanday Development Trust.

In 1996, the Sanday Development Group was formed to promote tourism. This group became Sanday Development Trust in 2004, which has a vision to:

create an economically prosperous, sustainable community that is connected with the wider world, but remains a safe, clean environment, where we are proud to live, able to work, to bring up and educate our children, to fulfill our own hopes and ambitions, and to grow old gracefully, enjoying a quality of life that is second to none.

Projects include the establishment of a sports hall and youth centre, the creation of a local sound archive, and a Countryside Ranger service. [41]

Sanday Tartan SandayTartan.gif
Sanday Tartan

A district tartan has been designed for Sanday by one of the island's residents, although it has not yet been officially adopted by the island authorities. It represents the sea, the distinctive sandy beaches and green meadows of the island, and the vertical stripes of Start Point lighthouse. [42]

In July 2008 a concert held on the island was the culmination of an innovative musical project. The main aim of project was to set up a music-teacher training programme that would provide additional music tuition in the school and throughout the community. [43]

A shop where islanders can sell craft products has existed since 2016.

Folklore

There is a legend that a Sanday girl was once given a book called The Book of Black Art by a witch, and that the Devil would claim the soul of anyone who still owned the book at their death. This book was only able to be passed on by selling it. A local clergyman (Matthew Armour) took it of her hands and he managed to get rid of it by means not described in the tradition before his death in 1903. [44] At the ruined Kirk of Lady, near Overbister, are the "Devil's Clawmarks": incised parallel grooves in the parapet of the kirk. [30]

Natural history

Designations
Official nameEast Sanday Coast
Designated11 August 1997
Reference no.917 [45]

Seals and otters can be found in and around Sanday. There are several SSSIs on the island and the marine coast around the east of the island is designated a Special Protection Area due to presence of sand dune and machair habitats, rare outside the Hebrides, as well as extensive intertidal flats and saltmarsh. [46]

People associated with Sanday

Sanday's West Manse West Manse Sanday.jpg
Sanday's West Manse

See also

Notes

  1. Brand went on to say that: "There are also some who speak Norse especially in the Mainland, as in the Parish of Hara there are a few yet living, who can speak no other thing, this language not being quite extinct among them." [28]

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References

Citations

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Sources

General references

Coordinates: 59°15′N2°34′W / 59.250°N 2.567°W / 59.250; -2.567