Alison Sutherland ‘Rocks’

Known to many in Orkney as Mrs Jefford, the Kirkwall Grammar School teacher, Alison Sutherland, sadly passed away earlier this year.

This amazing woman left behind not just the fond memories of those who knew her but stored inside her garage is an outstanding geological collection.

Meticulously documented and cross referenced the collection of stones and fossils travelled to Alison Sutherland’s garage from all over the world , delivered by family, friends, neighbours, colleagues and past pupils.

The collection in its entirety is due to go to the Orkney Fossil and Heritage Centre in Burray but The Orkney News was permitted a viewing.

Alison’s daughter , Caroline, has kindly invited anyone who collected stones for her mother’s collection or who has an interest in geology to arrange a visit.

She said:
‘If you are interested in visiting, please send an email to :

The visits will be conducted with physical distancing rules applying and are available till mid October. They are completely free and this wonderful collection is well worth seeing.

For all the individuals too who brought back a stone for Alison from holidays or trips away it is an opportunity to see how their contribution added to this tremendous body of work.

“Glaciers, grinding West, gouged out

these valleys, rasping the brown sandstone,

and left, on the hard rock below –

the ruffled foreland –

this frieze of mountains, filed

on the blue air –” Norman McCaig, ‘A Man In Assynt’

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

4 replies »

  1. Blimey – I won’t be going to see them in Mrs Jefford’s garage, as I’m still being ultra-careful about going where there are people.
    What I’m hoping is, that, when they go to the Fossil & Heritage Centre, they will be displayed in their entirety, as a special exhibition – maybe even in a mock-up of the garage?! That would be really good – keep them as she had them.
    I’ll definitely go and see them then. Also, I’ll be able to really take my time, go back to re-look at things again and again.

    This is a ‘find’. Thanks for reporting on it!

    • I believe they will not be displayed as a whole collection, some will go into storage. The tour is very well organised. You wouldn’t encounter other people if you did decide to visit the garage. All pre arranged with her daughter.

  2. Thanks Fiona – I really do like the idea of a mock-up of the garage – that way, they would be displayed exactly as she displayed them – keeping the connection with her.
    Obviously, it’s not up to me – nothing to do with me really. I just very much like the idea.

    I don’t think I’ll go to the garage – it is very good of the family to arrange for people to do so, but….as you know, I have some health difficulties, which mean that I never really know how I’m going to be feeling. So, I tend to try not to commit to certain days and times, if I can help it – except with folk who know me, and know that I might have to ‘duck out’ at any time.
    I’m not over- dramatizing – I just know my limitations.

    I’m still very pleased to see this collection ‘coming to light’ – and will enjoy whatever I get to see, at the Fossil & Heritage Centre, whenever I get to see it!

    I’ll keep my fingers crossed for a mock-up of the garage – maybe in one of the out-houses at the F&H Centre? I can picture it!

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