Imagine you could walk around Hoy, in Orkney, with a host of island voices telling you stories and pointing out places of interest. Imagine you could do this from wherever you are. Well, now you can.
The first of a new series of podcasts celebrating the heritage of the island of Hoy is available now, with new episodes to be released every Saturday, from May 1.
The Tales o Hoy podcasts have been produced by Hoy Heritage Centre, taking listeners on an entertaining journey through a landscape of stories, together with an interactive Google Earth map.
Each of the five episodes will take in different areas of Hoy parish and feature landmarks, local lore, archaeology, and flora and fauna. Over 30 voices make up the richly layered aural experience, where archive and new recordings are blended and accompanied by newly commissioned music by Orcadian musician James Watson.
The experience is enhanced with an interactive map allowing virtual visitors to travel around the parish, and dedicated webpages that explore some of the stories in more detail and offer a fascinating archive of images.
Dan Lee, outreach archaeologist with the Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology (ORCA), developed the interactive map.
He explained: “This was an opportunity to create a really full experience for virtual listeners who can now visit the places talked about in the audio from wherever they are in the world. Hoy is a remarkable place and it has been really special spending time developing this homage to its people and places.”
The first episode, Dark enchanted isle, starts at Moaness Pier and ends at Orgil. Arrive by sea and take in the impressive view of the hills of Hoy. Meet the ferryman and watch the pier being built. Hear about the shipwrecks of Hoy and the islanders’ rescue missions. Visit the Norse farm at the Bu, pass the medieval Kirk and hear about the bullock pulled mail service, the Hoy Express. Further episodes will take listeners along the old road through the valley; around Rackwick; to the Old Man of Hoy; and back by the new road via Trowie Glen.
Mark Jenkins, editor and scriptwriter said: “When we started this project it was going to be ten minutes for each episode, but it soon became clear there were far too many good stories and we needed to let the project be led by the voices. The response of the Hoy community has been fantastic, and I think we have given a gentle pace to a packed programme. James’ music has added a real texture to the series; his evocative music pulls everything together.”
Hoy Heritage officer Rebecca Marr, who along with Mark and Dan made up the development and production team, added: “Podcasting is a new venture for the Hoy Heritage Centre and it has been fantastic to have so many folk involved. Faced with having to close we thought about how we could get the stories held in the centre out of the door and into the landscape. This has been done in a creative way and it feels like the series itself embodies the experience of visiting the centre where islanders’ stories unfold and take you to places you hadn’t expected.”
The contributors are: Anne Bevan, Elizabeth Bevan, John Budge, Avril Clark, Jeff Clark, Gordon Hill, Dan Lee, Donnie MacKinnon, Margaret Moar, Tommy Moar, Ingirid Morrison, Stevie Mowat, Tom Muir, Andrew Parkinson, Dorothy Rendall, Lee Shields RSPB, Frankie Sinclair, Pearl Sinclair, James Stockan, Iain Talbot, Marion Talbot, Sheena Taylor, Antonia Thomas, Jean Thomson, Olivia Thomson and Terry Thomson with archive recordings from Peter Maxwell Davies, John Eccles, Jimmy Moar, Margaret Reid and Jack Rendall.
The series is available to stream or download at www.hoyheritage.co.uk, where you will also find the interactive map. The episodes will remain available and can be downloaded or streamed anytime.
This project was made possible through funding including Island of Hoy Development Trust support and through Hoy Heritage Centre’s partnership with Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology (ORCA), University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) Archaeology Institute, with archive material from Orkney Library and Archive.