Saturday, 13 September 2014

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Near as I can figure it, through the possibly flawed perceptual filters of my own reality tunnel, the most likely answers this week, seem to me to be :

Q1. Mainland (In the Orkney archipelago)

Q2. The Barrel of Butter Lighthouse (aka Carlin Skerry Lighthouse)

внимание друзья! For question one, St Magnus seems to have been buried in several places, first on Egilsay where he was slain, then in Birsay on Mainland and then interred in St Magnus's Cathedral in Kirkwall. The body seems to have been washed in Birsay. For question two, there appear to be two lighthouses situated just offshore from the writer's position, on the northern shore of Scapa Flow. These are the Calf of Cava lighthouse, which is listed in some references as being thirty six  feet high and The Barrel of Butter lighthouse/navigation beacon, whose height is variously given as six metres or around twenty feet high. The Eastender is taking a punt on 'The Barrel of Butter' being the correct answer, as the height is nearer to that given in the clues. The Barrel of Butter is also known as 'Carlin Skerry'.

The Sunday Times seem to be giving the answers from the puzzle set on the 24rd Aug 14, as the solutions to last week's puzzle but I digress. The treasure hunt is a little bit tricky this week but the initial clues seem to place us on the island of Mainland, in the Orkney archipelago. One hundred and twenty four thousand acres is around fifty thousand one hundred and eighty one hectares and this is roughly the size of mainland, which is listed as being around fifty two thousand hectares. The patron saint of the Orkney islands is St Magnus, who was born circa 1075 and murdered on the 16th April c 1115. Magnus tried to get out of the army by pretending to be mad and singing psalms during the battle of Anglesey sound, which upset the Vikings he was supposed to be raiding with. He returned to Orkney and took control of the islands, which he ruled jointly and peacefully with his cousin Hakon for a time, until their supporters fell out at the Thing parliament. A battle was narrowly averted and the two sides agreed to a further meeting on Egilsay, where they were to bring two ships apiece with an equal number of men. Hakon turned up with eight ships and a larger force and captured Magnus. Hakon's cook Lilolf struck Magnus with a hatchet and killed him. He was denied a christian burial and buried where he fell (on Egilsay). The body was later retrieved and buried in the church at Birsay (on Mainland) and subsequently transferred to Kirkwall.

There appears to be a ruined sixteenth century palace in the Birsay area and this seems to have been built for the first earl of Orkney, Robert Stewart (b c 1533). He is believed to be the illegitimate son of James V and Eupheme Elphinstone. A lighthouse situated around thirty seven miles to the west of the writer's position in Birsay, is most likely Sule Skerry, which the northern lighthouse board claim was constructed between 1892 and 1894 by David and Charles Stevenson.

Travelling south from Birsay, brings us to the village of Skara Brae, which was uncovered during a storm c 1850. Journeying twelve miles or so south east from Skara Brae, takes us to the northern shore of Scapa flow and it is here that two offshore lighthouses can possibly be seen, one on the Calf of Cava, which is said to be around thirty six feet high and one on the Barrel of Butter, which is said to be around six metres or twenty feet in height.

The puzzle compiler then most likely travels to the Covenanter's memorial, a ten metre brick obelisk which was raised c 1888, to commemorate the deaths of the Covenanter prisoners captured at the battle of Bothwell Bridge c 1679. Some two hundred and fifty of them were locked in the hold of 'The Crown of London' in Leith, for transportation to the colonies to work as slaves. During the long trip, the skipper put in to Deer sound on Orkney, to shelter from a  fierce torbellino that blew in but the ship broke anchor and was wrecked. The crew escaped and around forty eight prisoners managed to get out of the hold after a crew member freed them but the rest went down with the ship. Their bodies were turning up on the beaches there for days afterwards and they were buried at Scarva Taing. The scuttlebutt says that the ship was never meant to make it to America and may have been deliberately wrecked, in order to get rid of the political dissidents.

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