Posts tagged ‘Brough of Birsay’

Brough of Birsay – Part 2

In yesterdays post I promised you a few more shots from the Brough of Birsay. Well here you go:


I should explain the title of the image: “Searching for Groaties”. This is a shot of Liz combing the beach for “Groatie-buckies” which is the name Orcadian’s give to the Northern Cowrie shell. They are small and difficult to find, but it’s a popular pastime for locals and tourists alike as they are said to bestow good luck on the finder. Unfortunately we didn’t find any on this trip, but we have booked to go back to Orkney for a week at Christmas and so we hope to find some then. We are already looking forward to going back!!

As we didn’t find any “groaties” I don’t have any photos to show you what they look like – but if you click on the link above, then I’m sure your curiosity will be satisfied. Actually it’s not true (strictly speaking) that we didn’t find any, because Liz did purchase a “groatie” cast in silver from local jeweller Roger PhilbyI think it’s fair to say that Liz was a very happy wifey after that…;0).

One final thing, which I really should have mentioned in the post yesterday, is that apparently the “Brough” in “Brough of Birsay” is pronounced “Broch” – which is all a little confusing as Orkney has proper Iron-age Brochs as well, but I’ll hopefully explain more about those in a future post.

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)

Brough of Birsay – Part 1

The Brough of Birsay is a tidal island off the northwest coast of Orkney’s mainland. When the tide is right it is accessible by a narrow slippery causeway, for the rest of the time it is totally isolated. There is evidence of both Norse (Viking) and Pictish settlement on the Island, no doubt attracted by the easily defendable nature of the site.

We visited twice whilst we were there, just walking on the beach, searching for sea shells and being mesmerised by the North Atlantic waves rolling in and crashing against the rocks. It is a beautiful and dramatic spot.


Just a quick note on the shot of the Common Seal (or at least I think it’s a Common Seal, it could be a Grey Seal instead). I’m not that pleased with this image, I was a little too far away for my 70-200mm lens and as a result I’ve had to crop this shot quite heavily. Also it’s not as sharp as I would like. I’ve included it here because it’s the only useable shot of a seal that I have. We saw quite a few in our two-week holiday, but unfortunately not many where I was in a position to photograph them.

Watch-out for more shots of the Brough of Birsay in my next post. 

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)

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