Posts tagged ‘Kirkwall’

The Ba

We spent part of our Christmas Day on Orkney watching the “Ba”, a sort of cross between rugby and football played in the streets of Kirkwall between the “Uppies” and the “Doonies” – traditionally the side you’re on being dependant on where you were born in Kirkwall. Apparently this Christmas and New Year Day event has been played in its current form since about 1850, but it has a much older history than that.

The action, for the most part, resembles a giant, disorganised, free-for-all scrum that occasionally breaks apart when one of the two teams manages to run the Ba (an old-fashioned style brown leather stitched football) nearer to the opposition goal line at either end of Kirkwall’s Broad Street. The scrum then quickly re-forms in a different part of the street as the two teams re-organise to defend their lines or push for another advantage.

It’s a chaotic and (if we’re being honest) fairly ridiculous affair that can go on for hours before a winner is declared. However, I’m all in favour of keeping alive these local traditions as they form part of our social history and unfortunately we have precious few of them left. It’s also good to see that the Ba attracts a healthy turn-out of local (and in our case, not so local) spectators – no mean achievement on the day we attended because it was freezing and pouring with rain (which did have the benefit of giving the weather-sealing on my new camera and lens a good work-out…..which thankfully they passed).

Daft as the Ba is….long may it continue:

Unfortunately I didn’t get a shot of the Ba itself, but trust me it is in there somewhere…..;0).

If you would like to read more about the Ba and its history then I would encourage you to take a look here.

© Mark Simms Photography (2014)

Merry Christmas

I just wanted to say, at this festive time of year, thanks so much to all those people who visited, followed, liked and commented on my photoblog during 2013. I really do enjoy sharing my work with you all, I find your positive feedback and kind words a constant source of support and inspiration 😊

As Liz and I are up on Orkney for Christmas, the first time we have been away for the festive period in 13 years of marriage, it seems appropriate that I share with you a shot from the trip. So, below is a close-up image of a wood-carving of an angel from St Magnus’ Cathedral in Kirkwall:

Wooden Angel

Merry Christmas everyone, wherever you are and whoever you’re with, I hope you have a great time, but most of all take care and best wishes.

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)

St Magnus Cathedral – Interior

In my last post I promised you some shots of the interior of St Magnus’ Cathedral, well here you go…

It really is a beautiful Cathedral, very warm and welcoming with lots of interesting details. If you get an opportunity to visit then I highly recommend that you take the tour, as you get to see the upper levels of the Cathedral and the guides are extremely knowledgeable. Liz and I are really looking forward to re-visiting at Christmas this year and we can’t wait to see the lovely red sandstone walls be-decked with festive decorations and sparkly lights.

Just a quick note on the post-processing – I’ve used some of these interior shots to experiment with the detail extractor and tonal contrasts in Nik’s Colour Efex Pro 4. I’m really pleased with the results, but I would of course welcome your feedback.

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)

St Magnus Cathedral – Exterior

St Magnus Cathedral, known as “The Light in the North”, was founded in the year 1137 by Earl Rognvald-Kali. Rognvald was the nephew of Earl Magnus after whom the Cathedral is dedicated. Magnus was treacherously murdered by Haakon Paulson, his cousin and rival for the Norse Earldom of Orkney, as the two met on the island of Egilsay to discuss peace terms in 1116. In the 1120’s Rognveld fought a bitter struggle against Haakon’s son to win the Earldom for himself, and he promised to build a great stone church in the memory of his martyred uncle if he were successful. Both Magnus and Rognvald were made saints and their remains lie within the stonework of the Cathedral’s choir.

Built in both the Norman and early Gothic styles, the Cathedral is similar in design (though smaller in scale) to the magnificent Cathedral at Durham in the north-east of England. The similarities between the two aren’t that surprising when you consider that a number of the craftsmen and master builders employed at Durham also worked on St Magnus’ Cathedral.

From its foundation up to 1468, when Orkney finally became part of the Kingdom of Scotland, the Cathedral was part of the Norwegian arch-diocese of Trondheim. In 1486, King James III of Scotland, gave the Cathedral into the care of the people of Kirkwall…..it remains to this day the property of the people of Orkney.

As you might have guessed from the title of this post, I’m planning to share a second series of images dealing with the Cathedral’s beautiful interior…..so please watch out for that in the next few days.

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)

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