The Lucky Buckie
27 June, 2013
This week’s guest blogger is Sandra Miller, one of Historic Scotland’s rangers working on Orkney. She is based at the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site.
The Brough of Birsay is one of Historic Scotland’s enigmatic sites, set on a tidal island off the north-western corner of the Orkney mainland. Access is therefore restricted to a few hours either side of low tide when the causeway is clear.
When the tide is out, there is an opportunity to explore the rock pools, which at low tide are full of marine life. You can often spot hermit crabs and anemones.
The beach at Birsay is popular with locals and is known as a good location to find cowrie shells – or as they are known in Orkney, Groatie Buckies. They may be found by the sharp-sighted in the rough shell sand, along with many other types of shell deposited by the rough Orkney seas.
Many Orcadians are avid collectors, believing that they bring good luck, indeed many Orkney women carry them in their purses. It is said that as long as you have a Groatie Buckie in your purse it will never be empty!
Orkney has many wonderful things for visitors to see but for the eagle-eyed there is also a fascinating miniature one. The rare Primula Scottica, the Scottish primrose, is probably Orkney’s most famous plant. It grows to about 40 mm high with two flowering periods the first in May and the main period in July.
Unique to Orkney, Caithness and North Sutherland, this primula is found on maritime heath sites in Orkney which include Yesnaby, North Hill in Papa Westray, the west coast of Westray and Rousay and on South Walls at the Scottish Wildlife Trust reserve of the Hill of White Hammars.
If you are visiting Orkney don’t miss visiting the on-going archaeological digs at the Links of Noltland on Westray and the Ness of Brodgar on the mainland.
The Ness of Brodgar is part of the Ring of Brodgar–Standing Stones of Stenness ritual complex and has many enigmatic and amazingly well preserved buildlings and artifacts.The archaeologists will return to the Brodgar site on July 15 for a six-week excavation that ends on August 23.
Lastly we would like to invite you to one of our walks at the World Heritage Site. Until the end of August there is a daily walk at the Ring of Brodgar starting at 1 o’clock and at the Standing Stones of Stenness every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 10am. Both walks explain the fascinating history of the World Heritage Site and its abundant wildlife.