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.