Shetland, Scotland. Day 27, 25th July.
From Lerwick I drove to West Mainland and Stanydale Temple. The largest island on the Shetlands is called Mainland. This is not to be confused with Mainland, the largest island in the Orkneys, or the Scottish mainland, or the British mainland, or the Continent (the European mainland).
(Click image for larger than usual expanded image)
We are looking down from the main road near Tresta on Clunies Ross’s House and Aamos Kirk. The Clunies Ross house is the large ruins; the ruins of the kirk (or church) is inside the graveyard wall, though there may not be much left of it.
John Clunies Ross was a Scottish sea captain who settled in the Cocos Keeling Islands south west of Indonesia in 1827. The islands had been first settled by British merchant Alexander Hare in 1825 and Clunies Ross established full control in 1831. He became known as “King of Cocos” and established a kind of feudal monarchy that lasted 150 years. John died in 1854 and his son John George took over. In 1857, Britain annexed the islands by mistake; it was supposed to be a Cocos Island in the Andamans Group. In 1955 the islands became an Australian Territory and began a long period of tension between the Australian Government and the Clunies Ross Family. The islanders were paid with plastic tokens only redeemable in the Clunies Ross store. In 1978 the Australian Government bought out the Clunies Ross family and in 1984 the islands voted to integrate with Australia. By then five generations of the Clunies Ross family had reigned over the islands.
Da Aamos Kirk came with a tradition that people would bring money or gifts here when they wished something special to happen. This tradition continued at least to the 1840s, long after the kirk was demolished.
Fish farming, Weisdale Voe, from nearly the same point as the previous image.
This is Stanydale Temple, the remains of a neolithic structure that was the centre for a farming community from 3000BC to 2000BC. This is the view from the doorway. It was called a Temple when it was excavated in 1947. It is much larger than a normal house of the time but may alternatively have been a Chief’s residence or a community centre.
Here we are looking back towards the other end of the Temple, from atop the walls. The walls are thick (1.8 to 2.7 metres) to aid in insulation in winter. For the same reason, the doorway is narrow and faces away from the prevailing winds.
There are three hearths within the Temple and a number of “booths” embedded in the inside walls. The countryside was much more fertile 3,000 years ago. Some combination of over-farming, tree removal and climate change help change the soils towards peat.
Here are some small standing stones beside the Temple, which you can see in the background.
And this is what Stanydale Temple may have looked like 3,000 years ago, from an information board at the site. A lot of effort was required to build it, because the stones were not from near by.
From Stanydale Temple, I headed towards Culswick Broch. Here are some abandoned farmhouses at Gruting.
More abandoned farmhouses, also at Gruting.
This is Culswick, where I parked the car before a walk to the broch. This is not an urban area and the phone is still probably perfectly operational. Handy if the local residents need to phone a builder.