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Voluntary Action Shetland

Issue Number 268 - Simmer 2014

New Shetlander cover 268

The Simmer issue of the New Shetlander, No 268, contains a wide range of material. The cover photograph and the lead article, Reflections on offshore life, are by Alan Lindsay, former Installation Manager on the huge Magnus platform, 100 miles NE of Shetland. Shetland waters are full of oil installations, yet offshore life is an unknown quantity to most people. The article sums up the engineering challenge, the day-to day operation and the lives of the men on the platform.

At the other end of the historical scale, archaeologists Nigel Melton and Janet Montgomery have been studying Sumburgh famers of 5000 years ago. A matter of survival describes how radiocarbon dating of bones and teeth from the period was used to produce dietary life-histories for some individuals, both adults and children, and what the results may demonstrate about the hardships of the time. The study was the first of its kind in the world to be carried out in such detail.

An article from much more recent history is A Shetlander and D-Day. Many readers will be interested in this account of events 70 years ago by the late Robert Manson of Westsandwick.

Willa Kate’s story Treasure hunt depicts a 1950s Sunday School picnic at St Ninian’s Isle. The story is told in the clear voice of a growing child, as excitement about the recent discovery of the famous Treasure makes this visit different from previous visits.

Christine De Luca contributes a translation of a lively sequence of poems by the Norwegian poet Arne Ruste; the Norwegian text appears in parallel. Jim Mainland, James Sinclair and other poets well-known to the New Shetlander contribute new work, in company with some new voices e.g. Robert Sandison of Whalsay. Jenny Murray’s poem Nae muckle change was inspired by a ruined crofthouse built very close to the ruins of a broch. Jenny considers whether life for the inhabitants of the house was very different to Iron Age life.

Penny Fielding of the University of Edinburgh, and the recent ‘Writing the North’ project, gives a short account of the life and work of a nineteenth-century writer whom she admires: Margaret Chalmers: Shetland’s lost poet.  This will be informative to many readers.

The editorial considers the experience of the recent Relay for Life, and Shetland’s support of the event. S.G. Irvine has again sent in some reflections based on his many years of recording weather patterns; this time he writes about The winter of 2013-14.  Ian Tait’s Museum Corner deals with Our smallest boat of all: the pram. The origins of this boat, and its name, are described in detail by Ian, and well-illustrated with photographs. Book reviews complete the magazine.

New Shetlander No 268 is on sale from 20 June, and costs £2. 

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