Creating ‘a valley of voices’ with Hoy Heritage Centre

Rackwick, Hoy. (Rebecca Marr)

The University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute is part of a new Orkney community project to produce a series of podcasts celebrating the heritage of the island of Hoy.

The Hoy Heritage Centre initiative will create five podcasts – audio journeys that will take in different areas in Hoy and feature landmarks, local lore, archaeology, and flora and fauna.

The Hoy community will be involved in the gathering, generation and recording of the content, which will include archive and newly made audio recordings together with specially commissioned music. The downloadable podcasts will add to the experience of visitors to Hoy while remote listeners can journey through imagined landscapes.

Dan Lee, lifelong learning and outreach archaeologist with the Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology, has worked with the Hoy community over a number of years and his knowledge of the area has added greatly to the resources at Hoy Heritage Centre.

He explained: “Hoy is full of stories, and with the community we plan to let the landscape speak. Archaeology can be about the Dwarfie Stone, but it can also be about more recent activity such as the audacious 1967 BBC outside broadcast of the Old Man of Hoy climb. It is the layers of time that we will be building up in this creative audio project.”

The path from the Old Man. (Rebecca Marr)

The five connected audio journeys will comprise:

  • Moaness Pier to Hoy Kirk Heritage Centre.
  • The old road to Rackwick through the valley.
  • The road via the Dwarfie Stane.
  • Rackwick.
  • The Old Man of Hoy.

Each podcast will be approximately ten minutes long. They will be available to download from the Hoy Heritage website, supported by an interactive map and links to discover more about particular topics.

Track to the Dwarfie Stane, Hoy. (Sigurd Towrie)

Filmmaker and editor Mark Jenkins will be making new recordings with the community and weaving the audio journeys together, while musician and composer James Watson will compose and play new music for the project.

Hoy heritage officer Rebecca Marr said: “Like many visitor centres this past year, Hoy Heritage Centre has had to close to the public. This has had a significant impact on us, but this is a great opportunity during these difficult times to lift spirits and allow people to experience the magic that is Hoy.

“Whether people use the podcasts to accompany their walks in Hoy or whether they travel from their armchair, sharing heritage by hearing local stories from local voices will make their journey a real experience.”

View to the Hoy hills. (Rebecca Marr)

Hoy residents living in the parish, or those who have homes in the parish, are invited to get involved by telling their stories, sharing tales or voicing up newspaper clippings. Contact Rebecca at

The project has been funded by Museums and Galleries Scotland.