THIS is a book about Orkney, for use in Orkney,
designed and for the most part written by natives of Orkney. It owes its
origin to the Edinburgh University Orcadian Association, the members of
which realized the desirability of preparing for use in the schools of
Orkney a book adapted to the special conditions of the Islands.
Educationists now recognize
that Knowledge ought, like Charity, to "begin at home :" this is true of
every branch of knowledge—history,
geography, literature, and the rest. They might even adopt with an
educational reference the saying of the wise man, "Wisdom is before him
that hath understanding; but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the
earth." An attempt has accordingly been made in this book to present to
the young folks of Orkney a general view of their homeland, some
description of its past and its present, and some knowledge of its
naturalistic and its humanistic aspects, with the object of awakening
their interest in their own Islands, in order that from this centre their
knowledge may advance the more surely to the sweep of a wider horizon.
For, like Charity again, while Knowledge must begin at home, it must not
remain at home.
While the scope of the book is wide,
the treatment of each class of subjects is necessarily suggestive rather
than exhaustive. All that is possible within the limits of a single small
volume is to present illustrative specimens rather than a complete
collection of studies. Hence there is abundant opportunity for the teacher
to supplement the book by specializing in one direction or in another
according to individual preference. The aim has been rather to supply the
irreducible minimum, suitable to all, in the hope that the book may find
its way into every school in the county, and be read by every Orkney boy
and girl before their schooldays are over.
The Committee of the Edinburgh
University Orcadian Association who have superintended the issue of the
book acknowledge gratefully the courtesy with which copyright material has
been placed at their disposal. They wish to record their obligations to
the Controller of His Majesty’s Stationery Office, to Messrs. J. M. Dent
and Co., Messrs. Longmans, Green, and Co., Messrs. Macmillan and Co.,
Messrs. W. and R. Chambers, and the Walter Scott Publishing Company, for
the use of the extracts to which their names are respectively appended,
and to Messrs. Thomas Nelson and Sons for much copyright material,
including numerous illustrations. They also desire to express their thanks
to the Honourable Mrs. John Dundas of Papdale, and to Messrs. Duncan J.
Robertson, J. Storer Clouston, and Edmund Selous for literary
contributions which are in themselves sufficient to give a high value to
the collection, as well as to place on record their indebtedness to the
late Mr. James Tomison for the article on "The Birds of Sule Skerry."
The matter contained in the unsigned
articles has been contributed by many Orcadians, specialists in their
several departments, whose names are sufficient guarantee for accuracy—
Messrs. James W. Cursiter, F.S.A.Scot., for Archaeology, including
illustrations; James Drever, M.A., for Norse history and language; John
Tait, M.D., D.Sc., for Zoology; John S. Flett, M.A., D.Sc., for Geology;
Magnus Spence, F.E.I.S., for Meteorology and Botany; John Garrioch, M.A.,
for Seaweeds; John W. Bews, M.A., B.Sc., and George W. Scarth, M.A., for
botanical and descriptive material; Robert C. Wallace, M.A., B.Sc., for
descriptive material; and John Gunn (Kirkwall) for the list of Orkney
birds in the Appendix.
As regards the artistic features of
the book, special acknowledgment is due to Messrs. Thomas Kent, for his
generosity in placing at the disposal of the Editor the whole of his
unique collection of Orkney views, all the photographs reproduced being
from his studio, with three or four exceptions; T. Marjoribanks Hay, R.S.W.,
for his drawing of St. Magnus Church, Egilsay; Stanley Cursiter, for the
decorative initial letters, the title-page, and the cover design; and Miss
Rose Leith, for the border designs of the grouped photographs; and to J.
G. Bartholomew, LL.D., for the two-page map of the county.
Finally, the thanks of the Committee
are due to the generous and patriotic friends, among whom special mention
ought to be made of the Glasgow Orkney and Shetland Literary and
Scientific Association, whose donations of money have enabled them to
produce this book, for a volume whose circulation must necessarily be
limited to a small area could be issued at so low a price only on
condition of the initial cost of manufacture being met by those interested
in its production. -
The Editor, who must accept
responsibility for the general scope and plan of the book, as well as for
the actual form and part of the contents of the unsigned articles, desires
personally to acknowledge the valuable assistance he has received from the
members of the Committee, especially Dr. John Tait and Mr. James Drever,
and from the other friends who have helped by their sympathetic criticism
and advice, to all of whom, as well as to himself, the work has been in
every sense a labour of love; and he ventures to express the hope that the
results of that work, as here visible, may find favour in the sight of all
young Orcadians, and of many who are no longer young. - J.GUNN. EDINBURGH. 1909.
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