sea lore

* 'south west by south': taigh chearsabhagh 4 sep-23 oct 2021    

* sound of harris   * sea lore   * tributrees   * lost ships   * tidal streams   show guide

Oral history interviews (from Tobar an Dualchais, collected by field workers of the School of Scottish Studies) give first-hand accounts of the lore of these waters – including ‘South West by South’, in which an apparition changes the course of a ship. In another tale, a seer spies a full-rigged ship approaching from the direction of St Kilda, years before the vessel was wrecked on rocks between Heisker and North Uist.
In response to the stories, I created drawings

The drawings were done on a graphics tablet, and the process became utterly meditative. I produced hundreds and chose just a few. It would be impossible to replicate the images I drew, as I became lost in them.

I also selected extracts from the stories and made a booklet that can be read and downloaded here
(*select two page view or open in Acrobat)

The interviews speak for themselves. 
You can listen to them here and also read the full transcriptions here

A seer saw a full-rigged ship (English)

A seer saw a full-rigged ship coming from the direction of St Kilda towards North Uist

Angus MacKenzie, recorded by Gun Forslin


South west by south…a compass course  (English)

A skipper changed the course of a sailing boat after an apparition appeared in the chart room

Peter Morrison, recorded by Gun Forslin


The Hebridean was haunted (English)

The boat the Hebridean was haunted

Peter Morrison, recorded by Gun Forslin


Murdoch Brown from Mannel (English)

Murdoch Brown of Mannel was drowned in 1867

Donald Sinclair, recorded by Eric R. Cregeen


Boats being burned after a drowning (English)

Discussion about boats being burned after a drowning

Roderick MacKillop, Angus MacKenzie, recorded by Dr Emily Lyle


Seer saw bodies of drowned fisherman (English)

The night before three Berneray fishermen were drowned, a man saw two of the bodies being carried on ladders

Roderick MacKillop, recorded by Dr Emily Lyle


Full transcriptions of the stories can be found here 

I am indebted to Louise Scollay from the Scottish School of Studies Archives for pursuing permissions and tracing the relatives of both contributors and reporters on my behalf.