Fascinating details are emerging from the numerous historical sources that LIFTE research programme volunteers are investigating as part of the overall picture of trade in Orkney.
Here Synnøve Marie Kvam Strømsvåg highlights three interesting snippets from Anton Espeland’s 1921 publication, The Scots in Hordaland and Rogaland, from year 1500-1800.
In a comprehensive account by Anton Espeland, The Scots in Hordaland and Rogaland, from year 1500-1800, we learn that in Gudøysund (Tysnes) there was a landing place for ships that transported timber, especially ships from Hethlænder (Shetland) and Ørchenøene (Orkney).
They arrive every year to purchase boats for fishing, large and small. The boats were only held together with small nails. Before loading they were dismantled and all the pieces were numbered. This way there was room for “70, 80, up to 120” boats on a single ship. Upon arrival at the destination the boats were put back together.
Was this the world’s first IKEA building set?
Next door neighbours
Also in Espeland’s The Scots in Hordaland and Rogaland, from year 1500-1800, we read:
“In more ancient times, before the age of the railroads and steamships, it was undoubtedly much easier to go from Hordaland to Scotland and the Scottish Isles than it is now, and much easier to travel there than to travel across the mountains to Eastern Norway.
“Oslo was further from Bergen than St. Andrews and Edinburgh, and because of this the connection between Hordaland and our old tax lands was intimate up until the year 1800. From every settlement one could easily get across the North Sea several times a year, although not as comfortably and quickly as now. Still it is not very easy to get to, for instance, Orkney and Shetland, because the Scottish trade is over.”
Thankfully is is easier again now to travel between Norway and Orkney, and the bonds across the North Sea remain strong.
Norwegian by tradition
We also learn that, according to Bergenshus accounts, in 1567, 42 ships loaded with timber departed from Sunnhordland, in Norway, 32 of which were Scottish.
Ships from Shetland and Orkney, however, were not included in this number as they were still considered Norwegian, according to old tradition.
Norwegian by tradition, although no longer by law.