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Even More Snippets from Orkney’s International Science Festival

By Nick Morrison

Orkney yole

The Orkney Yole and how to build it.

Fascinating talk on the evolution of the Orkney Yole Originally they came from Norway in kit form for ease of transport and were assembled by local joiners. Is this where IKEA started I ask!? However the original design was soon being built from scratch in the isles with slight variations from North to South Isles. It Is a good seaworthy design and was Isles made for all work carrying people, livestock,peat, coals, the Mail etc etc. later versions were even motorised keeping the tried and tested hull shape.

Len Wilson was asked if he could rebuild a 1905 Yole, but considered it too far gone so decided to build one from scratch taking moulds of the original hull. This was the GREMSA started in 2000. About his only departure from original construction methods was to employ the occasional use of modern adhesives, all the planking was copper riveted for example.


Viking ships and Arctic Traders.

Marine Scientist Eric McVicar Gave us an account of how the Vikings may not have built their own ships to a packed audience in Stromness town hall.

He started by telling of the northwards  passage of the Komsa people crossing the Baltic and  of the Sami  people. The Alta Petroglyphs of 7000 years ago clearly show a range of vessels of different sizes with identifiable masts and spars not dissimilar to Viking vessels. The picture of the Sami boat has a Norwegian style house of that period on the coastline — The Sami did not live in such structures, there is also record of the Sami building boats for customers all along the Norwegian coast. The Sami introduced the concept of radial sawing which gives a tapered plank and thus a lighter ship . They were sewn together with reindeer ligatures. The Vikings introduced iron nails.

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