Something About Stone Carving………..

By Bernie Bell

Pics by B&M Bell

There’s something about stone carving – words or images, carved into stone, sometimes of such soft things – leaves, fur – how do they make something so hard, portray something so soft, so effectively?

I was reading Jackie Morris’ blog  about how she would love to learn how to carve words in stone, and I posted a comment, telling her of the little carvings to be found in Happy Valley.  This then gave me the idea of going to Happy Valley and taking pictures of the carvings there, which could become a piece for TON, which I could then send to Jackie, and thereby start working the spell of luring her to Orkney.  Jackie has recently been working on a musical exploration, called ‘Spellsongs’ (developed from the book ‘The Lost Words’ by Jackie, and her co-spell–weaver, Robert MacFarlane), with among others, Orkney’s own Kris Drever, so she understands the value and efficacy of weaving spells.

So, Jackie, this is for you , as we approach Bluebell time, and as copies of ‘The Lost Words’ are being prepared  for distribution to Orkney schools through the efforts of Jane Beaton and Orkney Library

If you ever do come here you’ll find a Lark haiku at Brinkie’s Brae  and all these words and images, in Happy Valley.  Here it is – I spread it under your feet………

The first stone carving we noticed, is just down from the front of the house, by the path through the front garden – Turkey Oak – to be read sideways………..

carvings Happy Valley 1 Bell

And nearby – and un-missable – A Monkey Puzzle Tree –

Leaning on the wall near the Monkey Puzzle, is some work in progress, including a lovely label for an  Ash tree

Turning round, up in the far right hand corner – nearly missed it – Flowering Redcurrant – read sideways again………

carvings Happy Valley 5 BellWe nearly missed that one, but, at this time of year, you can’t miss it – the bright pinkish/red flowers,  and the smell of….well, I think it smells of cat pee!  You might think differently.

We then went through the gap in the garden wall, and down some stone steps, to follow the line of the little stream, to the right.  The next  two carvings, are on the arms of a stone bench  – curlicues, spirals – not plant names, but probably my favourites……….

We then encountered a sit-ootery, which doesn’t  have a carving on it, but does have a carving by it, of English Oak leaves

At the end of the downward path, a spacy sort-of seat…..

stone seat 2 Happy Valley Bell

…..which marks the boundary of Stewart Moar’s garden , so, we turned and returned along the upper path, where we saw carvings for Sycamore ‘keys’, and Fushsia

There may be more of these carvings to be found, but these are what we saw, on our walk – you could see if you can find more?

If folks want to know more about Happy Valley  – here’s something – with lots of ’pingbacks’ too………..

A new café has opened in Stromness – Ell&Co – on the main street, kind -of diagonally across from the Stromness Hotel. We thought we’d try it, and it’s good. It’s a pleasant place to be, with big windows, looking out onto the harbour.  The food was good, too – so – recommended for lunch, after hunting for carvings, whether ancient or modern!

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3 replies »

  1. PS I tried to find out who did the carvings – whether one person, or a number of different people? But – to no avail.
    Whoever you are – you are very much appreciated!

  2. The Secretary of the Friends of Happy Valley, contacted me to say that Frances Pelly
    did the carvings – and a lovely job she made of it!

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