Culture

An Extra-ordinary Orkney Holiday – Part Two

By Bernie Bell

Readers of ‘The Orkney News’, might remember my tale of the Orkney Housewives Farmhouse Broth  https://theorkneynews.scot/2020/04/07/the-orkney-housewives-farmhouse-broth/   in which I mention a longer tale, which I will now embark on!

I’ve changed the names of the house and the people – past and present – to respect the privacy of those involved.  But the story – is the story. Here goes………..

In 2002, we’d booked a two week holiday in Orkney, staying at an old langhouse  in the Parish of Harray.  We’d seen it in a brochure, and it looked lovely, which it is.

We arrived, with our Jack-Russell-Cross – Ben ( though he was often a cross, Jack Russell!).  We unpacked and settled ourselves in, very, very pleased with where we’d chosen to stay. We were sitting in the living room, in the evening, and I said to Mike “There are too many people in this room.”  Not, notice, a lot of people, but too many.  Mike said he’d felt a tension in the air, but that was all.

I should say here, that I don’t call myself a ‘Medium’.  I’m just Bernie, I’m not a anything in particular – except a human being.  As far back as I can remember, what would be referred to as ‘dead’ folk have talked with me, and the spirit world in general has tried to contact me.  For a long time, this scared me, and I tried to block it.  In the last 20-odd years, I’ve learnt to ‘walk in Spirit’, and I’m very happy with it, now. How that happened, is another story!

I never actually ask them to come, as I then feel that I have no right to tell them to go, but when they do contact me, I deal with them as best I can, depending on how they are contacting me, why they are doing so, and what kind of people they are.

I’ve now learnt how to block bad people, and, as with the ‘living’, I can’t be doing with those who just want to complain, or witter on at me.  I advise them to go to someone who will just be pleased to be contacted!

As with the living, if they have a genuine problem, and they want help, or to help themselves, out of it – we can work together with that aim in view. 

So, there we were, staying  in – let’s call it ‘Langhoose’.  Basically, I/we spent the next two weeks discussing, reasoning with, etc. various people who, I had the impression, had been there for various lengths of time, for various reasons, waiting for someone to talk to.  There may have been other people staying there before us, that they could talk with, but I got the feeling that there was an awful lot of ‘stuff’ which they wanted to get off their chests, or were curious about.

Mike doesn’t usually connect with the ‘dead’ folk as strongly as I do, but, as what you might call the main character in this tale, first contacted Mike, it’s best if I begin with Mike’s words………….

“It might have been the first night of the holiday, but more probably the second, that the first communication with – let’s call him Robert Staðrson –  came. Certainly, it was early on in our stay.

In the still of the night, I became aware of a presence – not actually a physical presence, like someone standing in the room, but more a coming forward into my consciousness of a personality, and a strong one!  Communication came. Again, not like a physical voice heard in the room, rather, something like the sense of a voice remembered – information flowing, coming from a source outside myself.  As far as I can remember, there was no clear narrative told all at once.  The name ‘Robert Staðrson’ emerged, and a phrase insistently repeated: “There were ‘’Staðrsons here, before there were Gunns.”

There was a sense of grievance from a man perhaps in his late sixties or early seventies – old, but vigorous and certainly very strong willed.

It seemed to come from a much earlier time – perhaps the late 1700’s, certainly no nearer than the early 1800’s.  It was difficult to get the communication into focus, but further details emerged into my mind as I was telling Bernie about it the next morning:  Robert had had several sons, three I think, and had been confident that the continuation of his name at ‘Langhoose’ was secure.  However, his oldest son who had inherited, had only two daughters, one of whom inherited in her turn,  thus the family name at ‘Langhoose’ became that of her husband –  let’s call him – ‘Gunn’.

After this, for the remainder of our stay, I did not have particular dealings with ‘Robert Staðrson’, although I was at times aware of his presence, and particularly of the insistence that we knew that “There were Staðrsons here before there were Gunns.”  I think that, although, as a male, I had been his initial focus, he found Bernie to be a much more open channel for communication and particularly more capable of appreciating his way of life and outlook.  So, over to Bernie……..”

I’m back!  I had the idea that ‘Robert Staðrson’ was living at ‘Langhoose’ in the late 1700’s/early 1800’s, too, because of how he’s dressed.  I don’t know a lot about dates for styles of dress, but he’s wearing knee breeches, rather than trousers – those big, clumpy shoes with buckles on the front, and a kind-of flattened hat.  Also, his hair is longer than what would have been acceptable later in the 19th Century.  I had the idea that he’d had two sons – thought he was sorted out, with ‘an heir and a spare’ – but then, his oldest son had three daughters, which is how ‘Langhoose’ was lost to the ‘Staðrson’ name.  The main thing is, he thought the farm was secure for his name, but it wasn’t, and that’s what he’s so annoyed about.  He is very annoyed.  I think we left him accepting things a bit more than he did, but he’s still there, and still cross.  I think he’ll only be satisfied and move on, when ‘Langhoose’ is owned by a ‘Staðrson’ by blood and name – which could happen.  This was a large part of what I discussed with him.

Harvest field in Orkney with view over to Hoy, Bell

As Mike said, ‘Robert Staðrson’  first contacted him, as he prefers to talk business with a man, in fact, prefers to talk with a man, generally.  But, Mike’s family background is professional people – doctors, military – not farming, at all.  Whereas, I’m from Irish peasant farmers, on both sides.  I completely understand the idea that either the eldest son, or the one who stays home to look after the old folks, inherits.  I don’t necessarily agree with it!  But I do understand that that’s how it’s worked, on farms, for centuries.  So, he found me easier to talk to about it.

I pointed out that he had come into possession of ‘Langhoose’ by inheritance.  There may have been “Staðrsons at Langhoose  before there were Gunns”, but the owners hadn’t necessarily been called  ‘Staðrson’ right back to when the house was built. (I rang the present owner, to ask about the house, and she said that it was about 500 years old, and her family had been there for about 150-200 years).  So, Robert, himself, got the house by inheritance.  I acknowledged that the place would always be ‘his’, in that, anywhere that we live and love, is ‘ours’, always will be, in our hearts – but – he didn’t have much time for that – “Sentimental clap-trap”!

What cut more ice with him, was the idea that it could, easily, be in ‘Staðrson’ hands again, both blood and name.  I know that Orkney is changing, but there are still a few dominant family names and blood-lines.  ‘Langhoose’ is still in his blood-line, and it only takes a marriage, for the name to return, too.

He’s a very stubborn man, and far too attached to his pride  – pride of possession, more than actual pride of place.

That’s the main jist of ‘Robert Staðrsons’ story.  He was very grouchy at first, but I think it helped, a bit, to have someone to gripe to about it, especially someone  who did understand the inheritance rules.  He’s still there, though, and still not pleased with the situation, at all!

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