It would take another few visits for me to see everything on this small, but history covered Island. But I got an early start on something I couldn’t leave without seeing this morning.
I walked up the road, passed the black Angus cows, who watched me as I walked to the Holland farm and down a path to the Knap of Howar.
A big fat rabbit watched me without moving. He was brave.
The Knap of Howar is a monument of the earliest North European dwellings known, dating back to around 3800 years B.C. The two stone dwellings are considered to represent a Neolitic farmstead. The furniture and fitting include hearths, pits, built-in cupboards and stone benches. You can almost hear one of the Flintstones tell their neighbor, “Come on in and get yourself a chair.” He would then point to a stone slab to sit on with a stone back.
But before the greeting, Flintstone’s neighbor would enter the house by a low narrow passage way. I’m average height and I almost had to crawl in there. My brother Jack, with his height would have needed to slither in on his belly.
The Holland farm
The house and Holland farm (I haven’t learned the origin of the name Holland, but will, I’m sure), dominates the landscape of Papal and is situated on a hill overlooking the ocean inlet. It was the farm of the Traill family who ruled the island for three centuries.
The hostel where I’m staying at one time housed the farm laborers and their families, who were more like servants, I have been told.
Holland farm is currently owned by John and Annie Jean Rendall and their son Neil. The farm is currently operated by Neil and his wife, Jocelyn.
A joiner and a blacksmith were employed full time on the farm in the past, with the last smith until 1938.
The Old Bothy was the accommodation for single men servants until 1922. It is the museum that I was interested in seeing. It is generous of this community to keep it open and free to anyone. Museum artifacts and memorabilia have been donated through the generosity of the locals.
There was a bedroom, and a fireplace, chairs, and cheese-making equipment, clothing and tools of many trades. I saw old phonograph player and old records, dishes and other items used throughout the years.
The barn structure, of stone, on the property dates from the early 19th century. It is now used for dances and concerts. When I got inside, I imagined the barn square dances my parents attended.
The threshing milll
The cone shaped stone structure was powered by horses yoked to the machinery in the mill tramp. In 1899 this was replaced by a seventeen horse powered Campbell paraffin engine, which ran the mill until a 35 horse power Lister diesel engine was installed in 1954.
Before the threshing mill was built in 1820, the sheaves were threshed by flail in the old barn, then winnowed with riddles between the doors so that the draught blew away the chaff. The grain was dried, over a slow fire, in the kiln before being ground into meal or made into malt for brewing.
The 17th dovecote, that I thought looked like a huge basket, kept the laird supplied with pigeons and their eggs, both of which were used for food.
From the hill top near the farm, I could clearly see fishing boats and the opposite side of the Island, and then the plane came in and landed near the shoreline. Cows, sheep and many birds complete the present day reality of life on an island.