Orkney Sound Archive tape OSA 55: interview for oral history project. Sample containing about 3032 words speech recorded in leisure context

2 speakers recorded by respondent number C359

PS2UV Ag1 f (Agnes, age 20+, historian, Interviewer) unspecified
PS2UW Ag4 m (David, age 50+, Interviewee) unspecified

1 recordings

  1. Tape 103001 recorded on 1985-09-23. LocationOrkney: Stronsay () Activity: Interview for oral history project Interview/reminiscences

Undivided text

Agnes (PS2UV) [1] What what was the story about the witch again? ...
David (PS2UW) [2] Well ... she l ... she lived I think ... up on the hill above here.
[3] Millfield land somewhere.
[4] And she was supposed to be ... a witch right enough and the men ... from all round about here ... er [...] had a ... meeting about it and ... they ... I think met at the ... barn of Dale.
Agnes (PS2UV) [5] Where was that? ...
David (PS2UW) [6] Dale's the farm ... just over the hill.
[7] And they all had their flails with them.
[8] So they went to the Kildingy Well which was s supposed to have some kind of magical properties you see and er I don't ken if it was a a holy well or exactly but it certainly was reputed to have ... some kind of properties that could cure supposed to cure any disease save the black death.
[9] So they went to the Kildingy Well and dipped their flails in the water.
[10] To sanctify the whole operation.
[11] And then they [...] and took this poor old wife [...] and they beat her to death with the flails.
[12] And er they couldn't bury her in the in the Kirkyard.
[13] ... You see in consecrated ground so they buried her in this bit of wheat land at the Muckle Water there.
[14] The Millfield Gupps.
[15] So they say.
[16] And she was reported to have ... er ... have said when they when they took her out, that there would be nothing nothing grow on the site of the house but runcho And I don't know the they were awful hungry for land in that day you ken and there was quite, there was more than one occasion there was old folk just putting up with the house just to get the land that it stood on.
Agnes (PS2UV) [17] Mhm.
David (PS2UW) [18] So whether ... the fact that they thought that she was a witch was maybe kind of half an excuse just for getting her out of the house I don't know.
[19] ... But they they'll tell you that you can still see where the house was because there's a runcho grows there.
[20] ... There's different stories about I know that [...] long ago about men being put out of their putting out of their houses just to and they just er demolished the house you ken and
Agnes (PS2UV) [21] Mhm.
David (PS2UW) [22] just to get the land it was.
[23] There was a man that used to that worked in the mill.
[24] [...] His initials is carved on a stone above the the kiln fire.
[25] And I think it's eighteen sixty six.
[26] [...] Peter and was a house just up the road hereabouts.
[27] And he was just terrorized out of his house.
Agnes (PS2UV) [28] Mhm.
David (PS2UW) [29] And they [...] .
[30] Put hens in his bed and ... he come in one night and there was a s a man a stray man you ken [...] an effigy of a man like [...] and it was hanging by the neck from a rafter in the house.
[31] And I think they'd just been hounding him for a while and that was the last straw.
[32] And he came down he would have been working for he would have been at that time [...] my great grandfather maybe or [...] and he came down and he lived in lower Millfield after that and just as soon as he was out of his house, they just had the house demolished.
[33] Blew it up.
Agnes (PS2UV) [34] Mhm.
[35] and then divided up the land.
David (PS2UW) [36] Mhm. ...
Agnes (PS2UV) [37] You were telling about that witch story afore, is that something that your father told you?
David (PS2UW) [38] I think it must have been indeed.
Agnes (PS2UV) [39] Mhm. ... [...] . ...
David (PS2UW) [40] They are oh I don't ken when but [...] they must you ken obviously a long time ago [...] story.
Agnes (PS2UV) [41] Mhm.
[42] [...] kind of [...] story [...]
David (PS2UW) [43] [laugh] ... Er ... well ... story about the man from Rathlesholm.
[44] It was the harvest time and they were going to brew.
[45] Which they I you ken they were all all the houses would have [...] about harvest time.
[46] And you ken and all their friends and neighbours came around to help with the harvest [...] they'd have this home brew.
[47] So this man I think he came from Rosevale.
[48] Which is out along the shore in Rathlesholm.
[49] And he was going to somewhere in North End I think it was Huip to get barn to make this ale with.
[50] So he got the barn and he he had it in a peedie pail you see and he was on his road home and he was coming by this that hillock at Yensetter there.
[51] ... And he heard this awful grand fiddle music.
[52] So he stopped and he listened to this and went to have a look, see what was going on.
[53] And this was the trolls having a celebration of some kind.
[54] ... And so er whether the trolls keened he was there or not I don't ken but he he was watching this all the all the dancing.
[55] And listened to the awful grand music.
[56] And he stood and listened to this for a while and then he thought he was delayed long enough so he set off home.
[57] When he was coming along the road, the they were sawing.
[58] ... And there was a mark on his ... finger where his the handle of the pail was just sunk into the flesh of his fingers he was stood there the whole Winter listening to this music.
Agnes (PS2UV) [59] [...] I've heard one like that, I've heard about the one where the man goes into the [...] and and is there for years.
David (PS2UW) [60] Mm.
Agnes (PS2UV) [61] You know listening. [...]
David (PS2UW) [laugh]
Agnes (PS2UV) [62] [...] slightly different I think.
[63] Can you tell me about the one [...] .
David (PS2UW) [64] Erm
Agnes (PS2UV) [...]
David (PS2UW) [65] [laugh] There was a there was a man from Greentoft in Eday supposed to be.
[66] It was Gre he was out at the Caithes and it blew up a a gale a Westerly gale and blew him across to Norway you see.
[67] And ... he was likely in [...] poor shape by the time he got to Norway.
[68] But he survived it anyway and there was er folk found him there and kind of looked after him.
[69] And nursed him back to health and whatnot.
[70] And he was there but there was no way of getting back.
[71] And he was there for quite a while.
[72] At nights he used to go down to the shore and look out across the sea you see and he wondered what was happening back home at Greentoft and fairly homesick.
[73] And this had gone on for some time and he was down on the shore anyway one night and looking out across the the sea and thinking long for Eday and he met this man.
[74] And the man ... was asking him what he was er ... looking so mournful about and what.
[75] He said [...] he told him the story and he said if you could just get back to to Greentoft, he says, I would give you the best two cattle out of my byre.
[76] If I could just get back to Greentoft.
[77] So the man told him to be down there the same time next night and he returned [...] .
[78] So the next night this m the man comes down to the shore and here was two men with a rowing boat.
[79] This man he was spoken to the night afore and another one.
[80] With a rowing boat.
[81] I don't think he was just too impressed with this set up but [laugh] it was the only chance anyway so.
[82] They got him in the boat and ... they he had to lie down in the bottom of the boat and they and they covered him with a tarpaulin.
[83] And he couldn't look out.
[84] So they got him settled in the bottom of the boat and just as they were putting this tarpaulin over him, and getting ready to set off, the one man He heard the one man saying to the other, he says, Right, forty miles a wee stroke of the oars.
[85] So they set off anyway and just in no time at all they were coming into the shore below Greentoft.
[86] ... And it didn't seem very long to the man anyway.
[87] And er ... he was just delighted to be back of course and ... first thing he did was up to the house and ... had a he had a look round and he was in the byre and had these two awful grand [...] .
[88] And he was awful proud of them.
[89] And they were grown apiece while he was away and they were better than ever and the deal was been that he had was gonna give them the best two cattle you see and this was this was the best two animals he had.
[90] He was very loath to part with them.
[91] And he did kind of consider taking the two the next [...] wasn't fairly so good.
Agnes (PS2UV) [92] Mhm.
David (PS2UW) [93] But he thought, Well that was the deal.
[94] So he stuck by it so he loosed these two [...] and [...] them down to the shore.
[95] And as soon as the the first ones forefeet touch the deck of the boat, the boat just disappeared and it was the trolls that was taking him home.
Agnes (PS2UV) [96] And that was the last he saw of them?
David (PS2UW) [97] And that was the last he saw of them.
[98] And he didn't have to part with his cattle after all.
[99] But what would have happened to him if he'd not [laugh] taken the cattle down I don't know.
Agnes (PS2UV) [100] [...] that's another story with a an unusual ending cos I'd have thought when you were saying that he wasn't [...] that he didn't give them the
David (PS2UW) [101] Mhm.
[102] And some something
Agnes (PS2UV) [103] the nice ones and something happened .
David (PS2UW) [104] terrible befell him but.
Agnes (PS2UV) [...]
David (PS2UW) [laugh]
Agnes (PS2UV) [105] [...] are there any more that you're [...] about trolls or whatever?
David (PS2UW) [106] I don't think so Agnes.
[107] ... I've really ne you don't hear many stories about trolls at all.
Agnes (PS2UV) [108] Mm. ...
David (PS2UW) [109] I mind them they used to say too when [laugh] afore having a ... boiled egg, you know just peedie [...] .
[110] Insisted that they pu [laugh] put the eggs [...] the shell.
[111] When you were peedie.
[112] Which I don't think mum entirely approved of cos she [laugh]
Agnes (PS2UV) [laugh]
David (PS2UW) [113] seemed to think it was just quite proper table etiquette maybe but.
Agnes (PS2UV) [...]
David (PS2UW) [114] And it was so that the fairies wouldn't sail away in the eggshells.
Agnes (PS2UV) [115] Mm.
David (PS2UW) [laugh]
Agnes (PS2UV) [116] But you [...]
David (PS2UW) [117] Well it it was this this old wife had a a fairy that lived with her and apparently it wasn't an uncommon thing.
[118] And the fairies was [...] boat you see but they were kind of wandering kind of things.
[119] [laugh] And this fairy was it was found an eggshell.
[120] So it'd got this eggshell in the bottom and they used they would work a [...] a mast [...] a sail on it.
[121] [laugh] And they'd got this eggshell in the bottom anyway and away it went.
[122] And it sailed off to a island that it came to.
[123] And there was just a whole loads of fairies on this island.
[124] And the peedie fairy was just delighted to start with but soon realized that there was something kind of fishy going on and it wasn't a very happy place.
[125] And it turned out that there was a big goblin that lived on this island and he just ate fairies.
[126] And he used to come around everyday and kind of size them up and pick the kind of fat juicy ones.
[127] And he would tell them that when he was going back to get [...] gonna be his next meal.
[128] ... And er of course the fairies was kind of gradually disappearing.
[129] So it wasn't a very happy island right enough.
[130] But this peedie fairy anyway, it was [...] wandering about one day very disconsolate at the prospect and found a sparrow with a broken wing.
[131] So it ... kind of nursed this sparrow you see and got its wing bandaged up and whatnot.
[132] And er and the sparrow started to get better and er it was starting to fly a peedie but again and was just getting its strength back.
[133] And this goblin came along one day and says to this peedie fairy that like he was coming to get her in the morning.
[134] So [...] tearing off to find the sparrow.
[135] And er the sparrow thought he would maybe make it back to the mainland now so the peedie fairy climbed on his back and the sparrow flew it back to the mainland.
[136] And the peedie fairy came back and lived with the old wife [...] been afore.
[137] And it never wandered any more after that it was seen enough of the big bad world outside.
[138] But the old wife ... always put he egg spoon through the bottom of the eggshell when she had a boiled egg after that.
Agnes (PS2UV) [139] I've never ever heard of that before.
[140] Is that something that other folk on Stronsay know or is just something you
David (PS2UW) [141] I don't know.
[142] There's maybe not enough folk knew it because I don't know that there's very many fairies around [...] .
Agnes (PS2UV) [143] [laugh] No.
David (PS2UW) [laugh]
Agnes (PS2UV) [144] [...] .
[145] Where there never many ghost stories [...] speak about some of them but [...]
David (PS2UW) [146] Och I don't ken.
Agnes (PS2UV) [147] [...] there's not very many black [...] stories here that you've heard [...] .
[148] [...] and then came back and took a woman back with them as their servant [...] .
[149] Are there many in Stronsay that you've heard of or not?
David (PS2UW) [150] [...] that happened in Stronsay.
Agnes (PS2UV) [151] Did it?
David (PS2UW) [152] Mhm.
Agnes (PS2UV) [153] Tell me about that then. [...]
David (PS2UW) [154] Erm well [...] but the the descendants of them still here.
Agnes (PS2UV) [155] Is that so?
David (PS2UW) [156] Mhm.
Agnes (PS2UV) [157] I mean it's happened all over but
David (PS2UW) [158] But there's no ghost stories or
Agnes (PS2UV) [159] No.
David (PS2UW) [160] anything associated with it.
[161] But I believe it did did happen.
Agnes (PS2UV) [162] Mhm.
[163] [...] ghost stories [...]
David (PS2UW) [164] Ah I don't ken there's not really an an awful lot of ghost stories.
[165] There's Lower Millfield's supposed to be haunted.
[166] You see and it's likely one of the oldest houses on the island.
[167] You ken it's Well among the oldest houses on the island.
Agnes (PS2UV) [168] When you say that, roughly how old do you think [...] have you got any idea how old it is?
David (PS2UW) [169] No I haven't a clue. [laugh]
Agnes (PS2UV) [...]
David (PS2UW) [170] The mill has been I don't ken how long there's been a mill on the site there but the mill as it stands at present 's been there from eighteen sixty.
Agnes (PS2UV) [171] Mhm.
David (PS2UW) [172] Eighteen sixty one is the year it was heightened and extended and whatnot.
[173] But there's there was a peedie single story building there
Agnes (PS2UV) [174] Mhm.
David (PS2UW) [175] before that.
[176] And you can see on the gable end just here, you know where it's been heightened [...] you can see the the old gable end [...]
Agnes (PS2UV) [...]
David (PS2UW) [177] And there was a there was two water wheels.
[178] [...] one where the water wheel is now.
[179] That was fed by the [...] .
[180] But there was another wheel at the other end and there was a loch that the the f there were hill fields up between [...] .
[181] The toft mill at the other end.
[182] And ... as I say as I say I don't ken how long it had been there but that see that ... likely about the same time as the as the mill was heightened and er the kiln would've been putting on.
[183] You see there wouldn't have been a kiln at the mill before that I think it [...] every house had their own kiln and they dried their own you ken.
[184] Dried their own grain afore they took it to the mill.
[185] But so about the same time as the mill was heightened, I think that th land was drained.
[186] For my grand uncle could mind the man that dug the ditch that drained it.
[187] You ken, he was an old man then .
Agnes (PS2UV) [188] Mhm.
David (PS2UW) [189] So that in about nineteen sixties.
Agnes (PS2UV) [190] Mhm.
David (PS2UW) [191] Sometime.
Agnes (PS2UV) [192] Mhm.
[193] And that bit that comes right [...] .
David (PS2UW) [194] Mhm.
[195] That's right.
Agnes (PS2UV) [196] Mhm.
David (PS2UW) [197] That's right.
Agnes (PS2UV) [...]
David (PS2UW) [198] And
Agnes (PS2UV) [199] You don't have any idea [...]
David (PS2UW) [200] No I've never heard of the mill being on anywhere different from where
Agnes (PS2UV) [201] No.
David (PS2UW) [202] it is now.
[203] No.
[204] So I would think it's just always been at that that site.
Agnes (PS2UV) [205] What what was what was the ghost story [...] ?
David (PS2UW) [206] I don't ken, nobody ken's where the ghost came from.
[207] Or who it is really.
[208] I think I've heard that that it it it was er it was the doctor's house some time.
[209] [...] I don't ken how far back that is.
[210] But er there was something about a servant lass that got ... pregnant.
[211] And committed suicide to avoid the scandal.
[212] ... Or something.
[213] So it's possibly her that [laugh]
Agnes (PS2UV) [214] Aha.
David (PS2UW) [215] that haunts the place.
Agnes (PS2UV) [216] Mhm.
David (PS2UW) [217] But it just manifests itself very very rarely.
Agnes (PS2UV) [218] Have you ever heard it yourself?
David (PS2UW) [219] No.
[220] No.
[221] ... But mum has heard it.
[222] Maybe twice.
[223] And dad had heard it.
Agnes (PS2UV) [224] And what form did that take?
[225] I mean if they heard [...]
David (PS2UW) [226] It m it makes an awful racket sometimes.
[227] And always at night.
Agnes (PS2UV) [...]
David (PS2UW) [228] Terrible bangs and things that there's just no explanation for.
Agnes (PS2UV) [229] But [...]
David (PS2UW) [230] No no.
[231] Just noise.
[232] The the last time that it happened was er ... on it must be maybe twenty year ago or so.
[233] There was a beautiful night in the Summertime and the house was just full of women.
[234] There was mum and her and my grandmother, her mother.
[235] And Eleanor, sister.
[236] There was a friend of Eleanor's from Austria in the house and Kathleen.
[237] Yeah there was [...] five women and dad was away and I was out at the fishing [...] just for the night.
[238] And I came home about I don't ken, maybe eight o'clock in the morning or something [...] a beautiful morning.
[239] [...] flat calm.
[240] And here all these women was up [...] [laugh] And er ... the ghost was surely been performing that night.
[241] They'd heard this awful racket you see and they'd thought it was me coming and falling or something on the stairs.
[242] But you ken, very early in the morning.
Agnes (PS2UV) [243] Mhm.
David (PS2UW) [244] And they all, they got up in the morning and I wasn't home still [laugh]
Agnes (PS2UV) [...]
David (PS2UW) [245] And [...] must have been the ghost.
Agnes (PS2UV) [246] [...] Eleanor heard it as well.
David (PS2UW) [247] Aha.
[248] Yes I'm sure
Agnes (PS2UV) [...]
David (PS2UW) [249] Eleanor was there.
Agnes (PS2UV) [250] Mhm.
David (PS2UW) [laugh]
Agnes (PS2UV) [laugh] [...]
David (PS2UW) [251] I don't know, it's not a very malicious ghost anyway, just ...
Agnes (PS2UV) [252] Unexplained noises. [...]
David (PS2UW) [253] Just the sort of unexplained noises [...] thirty year or so.
Agnes (PS2UV) [254] [laugh] Were you speaking to [...] about another ghost story [...] or was that the one [...] ?
David (PS2UW) [255] No I
Agnes (PS2UV) [256] No.
David (PS2UW) [257] I don't ken [...] .
[258] There's not really many ghost stories on the island I don't think.
Agnes (PS2UV) [259] That was the one that I'd heard about [...] .
[260] What about any [...] other stories linked with characters around about here that you've heard?
[261] Old characters that maybe you don't mind but you've heard spoken about.
David (PS2UW) [262] [laugh] ... I [recording ends]