Bits & Pieces of Kirkwall – Or – What a Place to Live – Part 2!

By Bernie Bell

The recent discovery of remnants of Kirkwall Castle, under Broad Street and Castle Street, have been covered  extensively in both the Orkney Archaeology Society’s Facebook page, and in ‘The Orkney News’.

The sections of wall and possible road (?) which were first found, have now disappeared again under a layer of protective membrane, lots of gravel, and the new road surface. Can’t be helped – it’s a main roadway in the middle of Kirkwall.  When we called by, there were some clear sections of wall visible, in Castle Street, and also pictures of something which I hadn’t seen before – there are two small noticeboards with some information, and two pictures of this area, dating  from 1780  and the early 19th Century, showing what was left of the castle at that time – and the remaining walls, were quite substantial.

Kirkwall Castle

Looking at these pictures, it’s possible to see that this section of the Castle, was slap-bang where Castle Street is now.  An interesting perspective on how the face of Kirkwall needed to change – presumably the last of the Castle, had to go, to make way for Castle Street.

This reminds me of  how things are often named after when has been destroyed, for them to be built. Near where we used to live, there was Pound Farm Estate, where Pound  Farm used to be.  People need somewhere to live, but……the difference is….Pound Farm produced food, and had a big pond ( an old bloke I knew, who had lived in the area since  before the Estate was built, remembered this). The estate,  was a sprawling mass of identical bungalows, mostly with one or two people living in them, and not much other life.  I used to walk through the estate, to visit a friend, and  – it was like walking through some kind of horror film scenario, where all living things have been consumed by an Alien lurgi!

So it goes. Time moves on, towns change and develop, and the last bits of the Castle, had to go.

Now that the actual ‘last vestiges’ have been re-discovered, recorded, and re-buried, I should imagine another plaque will go up in Castle Street, or maybe on the wall of The Reel? Telling of the surprise discovery, in the year 2019.

Castle St and remains Bell

(Other banks are available!)

The town does move on, and, just along Albert Street, what was a menswear shop, is now being prepared to be re-opened as a shop devoted to Highland Park whisky!!  A very groovy piece of wall art now decorates the end of the building

Highland Park shop

That’s an example of  when advertising can add to the look of a place, rather than detract from it.

It has to be said – Highland Park is quality – quality whisky and quality publicity for that whisky.

We’d successfully done the shopping we needed to do – Orkney has what you need – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise – had a very scrumptious lunch it Lucano’s Italian restaurant in Victoria Street, where they really do look after you.

I took the opportunity of having my camera with me, to take pics of two things which have tickled my sense of the absurd, for some time.  Number 46 Victoria Street is the HQ of  Age UK Orkney , and the windows have displays about the work they do.  These displays include a big, plastic, purple brain!! And, a HUGE  foot!!

Has anyone else noticed that it has six toes?

And then, on to check out the Open Day at the Arcadia Park Project

The site was open for two days over the weekend, and will then need to be closed to the public whilst work progresses and the planting matures.  The aim is, hopefully,  to be able to have it open and accessible, by this time next year.  The open days were an opportunity for the public to see the basic lay-out of the site, and get some idea of how it will look, when it matures.  Most of the main landscaping has been done – the mounds, reflecting the hills of Orkney – water channels lined by trees, which will eventually arch over them – reflective pools, which can reflect the sky and surroundings, or lead to personal reflection. And, for me, the  pièce de résistance  – the whirly mound.  It’s a mound, with a spiral path going up it, and BIG stones.

It’s going to be wonder-full, beauty-full – and fabulous!  A place to walk, to sit, to play. What a wonderful idea it is, and what a wonderful plan, by Mr. Paul Green – the man behind the plan

Arcadia Park

There are also a lot of other folk involved, with planning and doing the earth moving,  planting, organizing all the effort needed to bring it all together, including fund–raising – the list goes on.

If you’d like to find out more, one point of contact is OACAS, at 6  Bridge Street Wynd, in Kirkwall.

Help is still needed, and very much appreciated, either financially, or physically – donating trees, shrubs, seeds, or even maybe lending a hand?

These are some of the bits & pieces to be encountered in a day in Kirkwall – a mixter-maxter mix – and, not forgetting the folk we met and had a natter with, and the dogs we tickled.

Everyone and their dog was out in the sunshine – one man had an Alaskan Malamud, and a bear, I swear, it was a bear! Lovely, friendly, cuddly fellow he was, too – the bear, that is!

3 replies »

  1. STOP PRESS!!!! According to a letter in ‘The Orcadian’, Arcadia Park will be having another tree planting session, this coming weekend (13th & 14th April), from 10 am to 4 pm – all volunteers will be very welcome!

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