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A true relation of 'The Orkney Hood'

This twill hood is RCAHMS NMRS record. no HY50NW 21, find site unlocated. Anderson in 1883 thought it to be a Viking piece, as have others since. In the NMAS 1892 Catalogue (National Museum of the Antiquaries of Scotland, now the National Museum) this is described as prchased from Petrie's collection in ? 1867 and found in ? St.Andrews [and Deerness] parish. A.S. Henshall in 1954 compares it to a tablet-band found in County Antrim in 1893. The last piece on HY50NW 21 still attributes it to St.Andrew's only sometime before 1867, and cites a radio-carbon derived date of between about AD 250 and 615 i.e Broch Age or late Pict.
All of which goes to show why it is of vital import that newspaper articles need to be part of the record. For a few days after the hood was found in 1863 the location is given as in the moss off Hurtiso in Holm (6' down under five peat layers). In 1877 the same newspaper finds it in Petrie's collection with the parish Kirkwall [and St Ola] which is the second parish from St Andrew's (as Petrie also 'misplaced' a barrow cemetery as to parish [if he has been reported correctly] this shows that even original sources aren't
beyond checking). And, lastly, in 1881 cloth found with an Orkney skeleton some 3 miles E of Dounby is compared by that newspaper to the hood. Only in this account is the location finally placed as St Andrew's parish.
When Friday's Radio Orkney announced that on The One Show that there would be an item on this they most specifically associated it with Groatster in the Tankerness tunship of St Andrew's, perhaps because its farmers have found articles deposited in the vicinity of White Moss in the northern part of their land. We can replace guesswork with the true parish where the hood was found. There are three places called Hurtiso in Orkney, but we can rule out the one in Rousay. The other two are in Holm. Upper Hurtiso is next to the extensive Muir of Meil and only a few hundred metres SE of Lyking where a Viking grave was found before 1870. More likely Hurtiso Farm (HY506105) south of this at the end of the road starting at St Andrew's school is meant. I wonder what age the church and manse to the north are because one time when I came down this road from St Andrew's to Holm in a ploughed field to their north I saw what looked to me to be the remains of a stone structure or structures. Certainly nothing could be found of the hood's site starting from the premise this was St Andrew's and Deerness.
The Hurtiso Hood is made up of three seperate pieces; hood, upper band, fringe with lower band. As these are not of equal quality it has been said that this means someone used two already existing pieces and fashioned them into what we see now. But it could also mean that the whole was a collaborative piece, whether for some social reason or as a result of specialisation (though I incline towards the former).

Orkney Herald :
May 23rd 1863 "One day last week... in the Holm district... in the moss off Hurtiso... exposed unexpectedly an ancient article of dress... This article was a short woolen cloak, finely adorned with fringes {?19} inches in length, and having a hood of the same material... This curious relic was found embedded in the moss at a depth of six feet, and under five solid layers of peat."
December 5th 1877 "in Mr Petrie's collection was a knitted woolen hood which was found in a moss in the parish of Kirkwall... which resembles in shape the old "trot cosy" of the last century... It had been done in bands, each with a seperate pattern, and round the edge is a fringe about twenty inches in depth."
May 18th 1881 "Skeleton found... while engaged in peat cutting in the hills between Birsay and Evie... The remains... that of a female of about twenty years of age. Some pieces of cloth, apparently used for wrapping the body, or part of the deceased's clothing... The strongest of the three pieces of cloth is of a peculiar woolen fabric... a close resemblance in texture and style to the hood found in a moss in the parish of St.Andrews upwards of 20 years ago.."

wideford Posted by wideford
23rd October 2011ce

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