Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Sanday. And Dr. James Foster McConaghy and Family

Sanday, Orkney.  One of the islands. See it at ://www.sandayorkney.co.uk/  It is small - 19 square miles - with some 550 people, see ://www.sanday.co.uk/.  A very small community, accessible by yet another ferry.
See the beach at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GejvYv5jqlQ/ 

 And the lighthouse, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6iVGosFwLg

 full size image
Fair use thumbnail from sO.geograph.org.uk/
Relatives in Orkney from England. We had been looking for another distant relative, the McConaghy physician Dr. James Foster McConaghy, in the graveyards of Orkney and other lists; but now learn that he practised at Sanday for 10 years. See Ireland Road Ways, McConaghy Roots.  He was given a silver tribute salver by the Sanday community, and its wording shows that he was much admired.

The engraving reads:

"To James Foster McConaghy, A.M., M.A., G.M., M.D.
 In grateful remembrance
Of his high moral character,
His skill as a physician,
And his kindness to the poor.
The inhabitants of
Sanday, Orkney,
Where he practised for a period of ten years.
16th January 1881"

He then went back to London for the sake of the children's education, and after his death, the family went on to Australia.   so there are pieces to fit - need to refresh recollection on past delvings.

Here is part of the note we received from someone googling James, and whose mother bought the silver salver from silver vaults in London.

"Attached are some pictures which I hope are of interest to you.

"There is unlikely to be a connection between our families as my wife
remembers buying this plate with her mother at the silver vaults in London
around 1969.

"There is therefore 85 years of unaccounted history and I guess that the
plate may have been sold to fund the children's education in London or more
likely to fund their (either the boys or the girls) emigration to Australia.
No one would have taken an item as beautiful as this in their luggage in
those days. It certainly sets the record straight as to the good doctor's
character and makes the Hamilton position untenable !
The plate took pride of place on my mother-in-law's dining room dresser up
to her death in January this year. I had the idea of googling James Foster
McConaghy and you now know everything.

"I have included a picture of the hallmarks on the back which confirm the
plate is of sterling silver, manufactured in London by Martin Hall and
Company with a date letter of 1883. I presume William Sturrock of Edinburgh
will have been commissioned to engrave the plate.

"For a small island community such as Sanday to have commissioned this plate
shows the high esteem they must have held for their GP. I have just been on
the Sanday tourist site and see they are recruiting for a GP. Some things
never change!"

 Thank you. 

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Ness of Brodgar, Neolithic Revolution

Neolithic Revolution
A period when peoples arrived with new ideas from mainland Europe
4000 BCE?

Orkney is an ideal destination for unscripted travel, especially with curious and history-minded young people.  The distances are small, and digs ongoing.  Going without substantial archeological background can be confusing. Research it later, photos and pamphlets in hand:  then see what emerges later to bring it all together. Research rapture. NYT nail on head:  see http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/05/rapturous-research/, article by Sean Pidgeon.

The neolithic sites in Orkney are also the topic in Archeology Magazine. See the January-February 2013 issue of Archeology (from the Archeological Institute of America, see http://www.archaeology.org/issues for Neolithic Europe's Remote Heart, article by Kate Ravilious at page 39 ff.

The Ness of Brodgar is a ceremonial complex of differing buildings, and was a dry passage between the standing stones of the old Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Stennis, and communities in the area. Were they clans coming together in a new sense of cohesion, or were some buildings for group identity, or religious purposes.  It became separated by water that rose because of other geological activity..  The Ness is between 2 lakes and is revealing a number of Neolithic stone buildings, a large community.  Orkney complex consists of some 70 islands, and these are10 miles off Scotland's northeast coast. Once connected, the archipelago was once connected to the now-mainland:  Neolithic stone circles, Standing Stones of Stenness; and the Ring of Brodgar (also Neolithic) get most of the archeological attention. Look up the village of Skara Brae, another community, and the farming community at Barnhouse, a less extensive but well delineated site.

Carbon dating set the Ness of Brodgar area as most active from 3300 to 2300 BCE.  Hunter gatherer groups to villages to stone tool development to farming. Find similar progressions elsewhere in Britain and Ireland. The sites at Orkney are more visible and lasted longer because the reliance was not on wood for building materials, as had been the case elsewhere.  Stone was used.  Stone lasts.

With the new farming community life, came increased spirituality, apparently, and elaborate burial customs with stone circles and lasting tombs. And artwork. And tinted pots. Painted decorations, red, black, white. We had a sense of family in descending stone steps to half-subfield homes, with stone slabs for beds along the side, and a fire pit.  Now we know why.  These were. Families. Or similar attachment groups.  Nap time.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Orcadian: Human Genome Diversity Project

Orcadians, people in and from Orkney, demonstrate genetic roots stemming from Picts (Iron Age), Vikings from Norway, and Scots. See note of it as a trading hub, thus spreading, at  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orcadian.  The Orcadian is one of the 52 population groups represented by the Human Genome Diversity Project, from collecting blood samples from around the world. 

Some critics say that the project overloads Europeans, but others say to wait until the results are in, as the process is ongoing and had to start somewhere.   See Archeology Magazine, May-June 2006 at p.48 (map, discussion).  and http://www.hgalert.org/topics/personalInfo/hgdp.htm.
Picts:  many sources seem to point back to Thrace for early peoples, or to the Scythians (we found that for Ireland in particular).  Our favorite Orkney site is Orkneyjar, see http://www.orkneyjar.com/history/picts/earlyaccounts.htm. There was a Welsh historian, Nennius, who records matrilinear descent matters and other bits. 
Click on Images in the left-hand menu of Orkneyjar for fine photos.
Pictish history.  It seems clear now that Pictish settlements predated the Viking, see http://www.heritagedaily.com/2011/08/pict-were-on-the-orkney-islands-before-the-vikings/  So what happened then?  Heritage Daily notes that there is no evidence yet of the two combining.  The search there was beneath Viking houses, to find Pictish, and also with settlement areas.
The Picts disappeared under the Viking onslaught, see http://www.orkneyjar.com/history/vikingorkney/takeover.htm, not even leaving their place names behind; but their genes went on apparently, uncombined. Did they just leave?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Orkneyinga Saga - History of the Earls of Orkney. Rune Ing.

Rune "Ing"
Leader, Conqueror, Fertility, Harmony?

The Norse colonized Orkney, with Harald Fairhair. Read the history of the colonization from Norway at ://www.orkneyjar.com/history/vikingorkney/index.html. The Earldoms were established about 850 AD.The runes that carry their stories include "Ing", or Ingvarr, meaning phallus, name of a god of fertility and conquering, or also called Yngvi, see  ://www.arild-hauge.com/efuthark.htm/  See that site for clicks to runes of individual Scandinavian or Germanic peoples. Or Ingwaz, a rune of harmony. See Learning the Futhark, at http://www.runes.info/pieces/runepiece09.htm

Beginning with 874 AD, then read the list of the rulers of Orkney, fertile or conquering or harmonious, Ings all, in the Orkneyinga, and known as the Earls, at ://www.orkneyjar.com/history/vikingorkney/earls.htm. That list stops at 1231, and another takes over, "the Angus line" until 1321. After that, the Sinclair line 1379-1471, see ://sinclair.quarterman.org/who/earls_of_orkney.html

Events of the earliest times: the Norse took Rouen, France (now) in about 841; and established a settlement at Dublin in 853. Great period of Norse expansion. In 885, the Norse besieged Paris. Read the entire timeline at ://www.orkneyjar.com/history/timeline.htm.

That Orkneyjar website is excellent - hop from one topic to another. Then, read details of the lives and deaths of the Earls (much murder) at http://www.geocities.com/missourimule_2000/earlsoforkney.html.

This brings us to the Orkneyinga Saga, an actual document that lays out the lives of Earls from 900-1200 AD. The places where events occurred are still traceable, and you can follow with your guide pamphlet. The Saga is also in paperback (://www.amazon.com/Orkneyinga-Saga-History-Penguin-Classics/dp/0140443835).

At the Bishop's palace in particular, see the corridor where the assassin ducked into the shadows in front of the group, then leaped in behind the Bishop as he passed, and then ducked aside again. The Bishop, as I recall, immediately struck the man behind him, thinking that was the assailant, and it wasn't.

There are some 14 Saga sites.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Standing Stones of Stennis; Ring of Brodgar; Scapa Flow;

Ring of Brodgar Orkney Ring of Brodgar, Standing Stones, Orkney
Standing Stones, Stennis, Orkney; Ring of Brodgar, Orkney

There are layers of culture here: Standing stones. Ancient: Neolothic, Picts, Norse, Scots.

 Scapa Flow. These lovely waterways also were the scenes of World War tragedies - //www.orcadian.co.uk/features/20thcentury/7.htm- October 13, 1939. Scapa Flow, the anchorage thought to be secure, was breached by the Germans and a battleship, The Royal Oak, lost. I believe this is Scapa Flow, but there are so many waterways I cannot be sure.

The site says that the first German bomb landing on British soil was here, at Hoy, Orkney. The "Old Man of Hoy" is a famous rock seastack, a sole upcropping chimney in the sea. Do an images search, or go to //www.orkney-seastacks.co.uk/oldman.htm

All in a name: "Orkney" is also The Orkney Islands, or The Orkneys. See easy source for this kind of noncontroversial subject at //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orkney_Islands. The Wikipedia site is an excellent information and photo overview.

Read the news and find that the communities that are near these ancient places face the same issues as more accessible places - see http://www.orcadian.co.uk/archive/index.html. Wind turbines, football, drugs.

Friday, December 15, 2006


Technorati Profile

No third-party direct links in posts. Written web addresses instead. Regrets. Until the issues noted at www.bitlaw.com, in the internet and copyright areas are resolved (please, somebody - unleash the web somehow), we are not doing the blue underline quick-links.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Orkney; view near Kirkwall

Orkney view, near Kirkwall

Orkney, near Kirkwall.

Orkney views are not as rough as I expected. People said that the Shetlands were mountainous, but these are agricultural, flattish, rocky shale, and lovely, but not fierce. This is Norse by settlement, and many places have Norse names. In the tales of King Arthur, as I remember, there was King Lot and his wife, Queen Morgause from Orkney. Long way to Cornwall.

The area is some 70 islands in all. And the Neolithic sites inland are part of the World Heritage sights. Being off the usual tourist track means they are less well known, but probably better preserved. There are also artist colonies here - lovely silk screening, for example.

Kirkwall is another main city, in addition to Stromness. There is an airport there. A good website for Kirkwall is www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/kirkwall/kirkwall/index.

More blogs about Orkney Road Ways.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Anchoring your road trips - Graveyards

What do you do when you land, with car, off a ferry in a totally unknown place. We aim immediately out of the town, to anywhere for coffee, a look at the guidebook, and any place names from family - graveyards. See Geneologies: Graveyards and marriage/ death records. See www.genuki.org.uk/big/sct/OKI/ for Orkney records.

We were looking for distant relatives who lived here in the 19th Century for a time. We found them later at Sanday, but spent enjoyable hours in churchyards, up and down roads. There is a calming effect of graveyards.

Dr. James McConaghy:  We were looking for family here, who moved from Scotland's in the 1800, the husband (a doctor), died, and the wife and children went to Australia. Trail then lost. We had not done any Orkney family-tracking source-work before leaving the US, however, because we never dreamed we'd end up here. So we did what we could by car, trooping around the graveyards and hoping to get lucky, rather than stay a day in records offices.

That was excellent. Graveyard wandering is pensive and the clues to life and death are like our own. Looking for names gave us exercise and gave us an anchor for stopping at every church yard we could - and strolling or running wildly through (if noone was around) to spot the names. One thing about driving yourself is this: you need to get up and run around.
Ring of Brodgar, Standing Stones, Orkney

Ring of Brodgar Standing Stones www.scotland-inverness.co.uk/stones.htm. For an overview of the islands that comprise Orkney, see www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/usmapindexes/orkney. There is a map of the Orkney Islands there. Click on the towns and place names for the best overview.

These date from 2500-2000 BCE, see ://www.orkneyjar.com/history/brodgar/

We put the car on the Scrabness Ferry from Scotland mainland, and went the route past Hoy (that is a tall stovepipe stone formation called the Old Man of Hoy) to the town of Stromness. We had no reservations, so were on line at the ferry at 5:30 AM. Fun once in a while, and great food on the ferries. Huge breakfasts,with the addition of baked beans to the fried eggs, sausage, bacon, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, breads. Big ferries, lots to walk around and see, or just nap.

Standing stones: if you get your pictures mixed, internet photos help identify. See that fine site for an overview of much of Orkney, at www.orkneyjar.com/history/brodgar/. There are some 27 of an original 60 stones originally set in the ground there, for more on the Ring of Brodgar.  It is considered a "henge" because of the outer earthwork area, a large ditch.  The alignments were important.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

World Heritage at Orkney

Overview: This is a World Heritage Site, see www.orkneyjar.com/history/worldheritagesite/index. Artists, sculptors, crafts. We missed the St. Magnus Festival, that started in 1977 by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, see Financial Times June 7-8, 2008, at page 12 Life and Arts section.

We thought we would see barrens and isolated people - not so. See also www.hi-arts.co.uk/Default. That shows artists in Orkney. The rest of the address is: aspx.LocID-hianewlx6.RefLocID-hiacg5002.Lang-EN.htm;%20%3Ca%20.

See also www.tcweb.co.uk/art-in-orkney/page1. for specific artists' works.

Orkney artists' colonies. Orkney silkscreening. St. Magnus.  ://www.stmagnusfestival.com.  See lovely silk squares, shawls, painters, sculptors. Programs encourage artists to settle there. Crafters: you will enjoy it here. See the variety of crafts at www.scotexchange.net/news_item.htm?newsID=39492

St. Magnus Cathedral - founded by viking Earl Rognvald in 1137, to honor his uncle, Magnus Erlandson, Earl of Orkney, see ://gouk.about.com/od/picturegalleries/ig/Orkney-in-Pictures/St-Magnus-Cathedral.htm/