Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Scord, Scalloway Castle & Pier

A trip to Scalloway. As it was a nice day stopped off at the Scord Viewpoint to take few photos - Scalloway Castle, Pier and some of Scalloway in center with East Voe houses in foreground.
The interpretive board at the Scord Viewpoint.
The Scord Quarry - a source of aggregate in Shetland.
Operated by the Shetland Islands Council, quarrying started in the early 1930s. The operations are proceeding in a east/southeasterly direction and will eventually cut through the hill allowing re-alignment of the A970 road to remove the tight corner on the main road to Scalloway. Approximately 100,000 tonnes per year of Metamorphic Schist are removed from the quarry which, being hard and durable, is particularly suited for road surfacing. As well as crushing and grading equipment, which supplies all sizes of aggregate, the quarry has Shetland's only Asphalt plant, and a bituminous emulsion production facility.
On to Scalloway. In old Norse it was called Skálávágr (bay of the hall), and was the capital of Shetland until the 18th century.
Scalloway Castle was built by Earl Patrick Stewart. Although the now unreadable inscription above the entrance door says 1600, the work was started in late 1599, directed by Andrew Crawford, the Earl's master of works, who also built Muness Castle in Unst. Scalloway Castle was built as a fortified stronghold, a demonstration of Earl Patrick's power and interests in Shetland in general and against Lawrence Bruce, half-brother of Earl Robert Stewart, and his father's former right-hand man in Shetland.
The design of the castle is an L-shaped towerhouse with a rectangular main block (18m by 10m), and a massive square tower (8m by 8m) at the southwest angle. Both the main block and the tower, which is taken by the mainstairway and the landings, were built with three upper floors. Although the roof and the flooring of the two upper storeys are gone, the structure itself survives in reasonably good condition.
The lack of decorative elements points to the fact that Scalloway Castle was first of all a stronghold and not so much a prestigous residence like the Earl's Palace in Kirkwall. Nevertheless, there is an account from 1703 that mentions some remains of colourful wallpaintings and decorations inside the castle. Inside, the main block shows the typical structure of a towerhouse of that time. On the ground floor next to a storeroom there is a large kitchen with a big fireplace and a well serving the whole castle. The first floor gave space for an impressive hall with nine quite big windows and two fireplaces. The second floor was divided into two apartments each fitted with its own garderobe or toilet; the third floor was divided into three smaller apartments, but all of them had their own window and fireplace like the two apartments on the second floor. More smaller apartments existed in the upper floors of the tower and the corner turrets.
Despite the corbelled footing of the turrets at every corner of the tower, (a typical "handwriting" or "trademark" of the masterbuilder Andrew Crawford), the only decoration on the castle are three armorial panels and an inscription commemorating Earl Patrick above the doorway. The inscription was recorded in 1800 as "Pium Vilicus, Mane of Orkney quod Shetland. James V Rex rgis of Scots. Ut domus cuius crepidoinis est in a silicis vadum sto sive in sand vadum cado." Translated from Latin into English this reads "Patrick Stewart, Earl of Orkney and Shetland. James V King of Scots. That house whose foundation is on a rock shall stand but if on sand shall fall."
The doorway to the castle which opens to the ground floor of the tower is set strategically within the angle of the main block and the tower. It is covered by a gunport beside it. Most of the other fortifications like shotholes which originally were below of all the windows have disappeared due to various alterations. The same happened to the fortified outbuildings, too.
After the execution of Earl Patrick, the castle declined in importance; in later years it housed some of Cromwell's troops for a short time and then fell into disrepair until it was taken in state guardianship in 1908. The castle is now in the care of Historic Scotland. Open to the public, the key to enter the building itself is available from the Scalloway Hotel.
This plaque, dedicating the uplighting of the Casle still remains, although much of the uplighting is currently in a state of disrepair.
The casle, viewed from the Scalloway Pier immediately to the east.
Just across the road from the Castle (immediately west) is a pavement mosaic by Lesley Burr (a contemporary Scottish Artist), comissioned in 1998 for the  Scalloway Art Trail.
South of the castle is the Scalloway Pier. This industrialised area currently incorporates fish processing facilities, net facilities, a fish market and is an important fishing harbour. The harbour limits are from the West Shore, where the Post Arthur Marina is located, to the East Voe of Scalloway, below Scalloway Castle. The main pier is Blacksness Pier, there is also the Prince Olav Slipway, which was built in WWII to service The Shetland Bus boats.
Just across the East Voe of Scalloway is a new housing development.
Although this is Shetland it is could easily be a scene from further north!

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