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Voluntary Action Shetland

Issue 289 - Hairst 2019

The latest New Shetlander, Number 289, is on sale. It contains a wealth of reading, with several substantial pieces: the most substantial being ‘Three kirks and a cathedral’, by Allen Fraser and Jenny Murray. The ‘three kirks’ in the title are believed to have been built in the 12th century, and all had high towers. The article tells the story of an exciting research project, the results of which are also the subject of a current lecture and a new exhibition at Shetland Museum. It feels like a detective story, the clues being found in oral tradition, numerous historical books, maps and kirk records – and in the stone used to build the kirks, with scientific analysis proving the source of the red sandstone used. The cult of St Magnus features in the story too. Illustrations include a striking reconstructed picture of the former kirk and high tower at Tingwall.

 Religion is also the context of Brydon Leslie’s article: ‘Sinclair Thomson: the Baptist hero’.  Sinclair Thomson from Sandsting, who died in 1864, is recognised as the founder and organiser of the Baptist movement in Shetland; the phrase ‘Baptist hero’ is a quote from J.J. Haldane Burgess. The article fully recognises both Thomson’s achievements and his failings.

 Jim Mainland writes intriguingly about ‘The voices’ he hears of a morning; readers may have heard them too. And, as the nights draw in, it seems a suitable time for the New Shetlander to publish a tale that may put a shiver or two down the spine. ‘Familiar’ by Kathy Hubbard, set in modern Shetland, should fit the bill.

 The editorial reflects on Lib-Dem voters and the party, locally and nationally. ‘Da wadder eye’ applauds the Shetland Library as ‘one of Shetland’s greatest community assets’, and anticipates the future of council meetings in St Ringan’s, before offering an analysis of the recent election.

Frank Manson concludes his popular series ‘Backward glances: memories of Hillswick in the 50s and 60s’. His review of the seasons ends with hairst, and weddings. ‘A child’s view of Rousay’, by Peter Anderson, also ends in this issue, as the author’s family prepare to leave the island, not long after the great gale of 1952. Stories abound of this gale and the devastation it caused, and he remembers it vividly.

 There are some striking poems by well-known writers. The dialect writing section of the Waas Show continues, and its young prizewinners appear here. Book reviews feature as usual.

 The cover illustration for this Hairst issue is by Steven Christie. The New Shetlander is priced at £3

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