Odin Stone: Plates 32 – 35

Tillman Crane - Caravan, Deerness, Orkney, 2006

Odin Stone Plate 32: Caravan, Deerness, Orkney, 2006

Plate 32: Caravan, Deerness, Orkney, 2006

In the spring of 2006 I went to Scotland with my friend, Peter Goss. He was available to travel during his spring break from the University of Utah and I wanted to photograph Scotland in a season I hadn’t yet experienced so we took a chance on going during March. When we arrived in Orkney the snow was melting from the largest snowfall in many years and there were still traces in ditches and shaded areas around the islands. As is true in the US, the March weather in Scotland changes rapidly from warming sun to stormy, gale force winds. We worked every moment we were able in my favorite locations and when the weather kept us from photographing we drove around and explored the more of the countryside. On a very cold and blustery day we drove to Deerness and ended up at this beach. The wind was, as they say in Scotland, “blowin’ a howlie” so we didn’t take out our camera equipment. However, just past the parking area, I saw this holiday caravan sitting isolated, tied down and waiting out the storm. We returned to the car where I retrieved my “Hobo” 5×12 camera and tripod. The wind was blowing so hard that Peter had to hold down the tripod while I (tried to) steady the camera and put the film holder in it. I made two exposures and while we waited while our faces were sand blasted by the airborne sand. I think of this image as a visible example of the Orcadian spirit of determination – and optimism for the beautiful spring weather to soon arrive.

Tillman Crane - Odin Stone Plate 33: Bailey’s Stone, Ring of Brodgar, Orkney, 2005

Odin Stone Plate 33: Bailey’s Stone, Ring of Brodgar, Orkney, 2005

Plate 33: Bailey’s Stone, Ring of Brodgar, Orkney, 2005

The Ring of Brodgar is over one hundred yards in diameter. The stones average about six feet in height. Originally it is estimated that there were approximately 64 stones in the circle. Today, half remain. I have photographed these stones many times, making individual “portraits” of each stone as well as trying to figure out the alignment and relationships between them. This image gives some sense of scale to the ring and its stones. For me it is an infinitely variable puzzle. From this vantage point I am looking North-northeast, across the Loch of Harray towards the hills surrounding Finstown. To my knowledge none of the stones are specifically named. My brother Bailey, on an earlier trip had brought a small stone from his yard in Hazel Green, Alabama, to Scotland and he left this touchstone in the split of the stone closest to the camera. Two years later, when I made this photograph, it was still there. I hope someday Bailey will be able to return with me to the Ring of Brodgar and revisit these touchstones left behind.

Tillman Crane - Odin Stone Plate 34: Croft Interior, Rackwick Bay, Hoy, Orkney, 2005

Odin Stone Plate 34: Croft Interior, Rackwick Bay, Hoy, Orkney, 2005

Plate 34: Croft Interior, Rackwick Bay, Hoy, Orkney, 2005

On the island of Hoy sits the crofting village of Ratwick, in a valley surrounded by foothills that are six hundred feet high. It has a crescent beach filled with round stones of all sizes and it is one of the most famous beaches in Orkney. The village is nestled in a valley carved by geological time with its beach facing into the North Atlantic. I went to Hoy on a beautiful day hoping to photograph the round stones on the beach. As I crossed the island and came down into this valley I could see a storm blowing in off the Atlantic. I drove down into the valley anyway to take my chances. I parked my car in the visitors lot and carried my camera gear down the beach as the wind and surf were picking up. On the beach sits a croft that serves as a shelter to any who wish to stay there.  There is no charge, only the admonition to keep the place clean for the next visitor. I decided to wait out the storm in the croft and photographed inside while I did so. The storm raged on and after six hours it was time to make a decision – either stay the night or catch my ferry back to Mainland Orkney. I opted for the latter and a hot dinner. However, though

Mother Nature thwarted my photographic intention perhaps I got the better photograph in the croft than on the beach.

Tillman Crane - Odin Stone Plate 35: Waiting Room, Egilsay, Orkney, 2007

Odin Stone Plate 35: Waiting Room, Egilsay, Orkney, 2007

Plate 35: Waiting Room, Egilsay, Orkney, 2007

Egilsay is a small island north of mainland Orkney that supports a farming community and is home to the ruins of one of St. Magnus’ churches. Attached to this roofless ruin is a round tower, much like the Irish round towers. The purpose of this trip was to photograph the church and tower, which I did. After completing this self-imposed assignment I returned to the ferry terminal to await the return ferry home. While sitting I noticed this community bulletin board. This board is a clear example of how island communities keep its members posted of news. Everyone has to take the ferry to get off island and what better place to post a notice than in the ferry waiting room. Some of the notices are official and some unofficial, but all are important to the life on the island community.

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