Sandwick is a parish in West Mainland, Orkney, bounded on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. To the south is the parish of Stromness, to the north that of Birsay and to the east those of Stenness and land-locked Harray. Sandwick is about 6 miles north to south and 5 miles east to west. Containing, as it does, several lochs, Sandwick's land area is roughly 18½ square miles.
Sandwick means a sandy bay; sand, whether on the beach or in the sandwiches, has always been sand, whereas wick [O.N. vik] meant “an open unsheltered bay” [Thos. Edmondston: An Etymological Glossary of the Shetland and Orkney Dialect. London and Berlin 1866.] The sandy bay in modern Sandwick is now called the Bay of Skaill and is the only sandy bay in the parish of Sandwick or, indeed, anywhere along the Atlantic seaboard of Mainland, much of whose length is defended by cliffs 100-200 feet high. Sandwick exemplifies two aspects of Orkney place-names; first, that they are almost without exception Norse in origin and second that they are literal and descriptive. As Orkney abounds in sandy bays it is unsurprising, given the literal-mindedness of Viking taxonomists, that the name Sandwick or its derivatives is quite common. One, Sandwick in Deerness, achieved prominence in the Orkneyinga Saga by featuring as the place of a naval battle between Earl Thorfinn in five ships and the King of Scots in eleven. As Thorfinn predicted to his men in his pre-battle pep-talk, the Scots took to flight with Thorfinn in pursuit. Although referred to as Sandwick in the Orkneyinga Saga, Sandwick in Deerness is now called Sandside Bay. Historically Deerness itself was divided into six tunships, one of which was also called Sandwick; each was scatted [valued for taxation] as 1 whole urisland. However, what follows concerns the modern Parish of Sandwick in West Mainland.
Sandwick was formerly divided into North and South Sandwick as well as being united with Stromness. Three very old Orkney family names derived from their respective tunships in North Sandwick; Linklater at the northern end of the parish, east of the Hill of Cruaday; Kirkness on the ness at the northern end of the Loch of Harray; and Hourston to the south of Dounby. One possible explanation for the name Linklater is that the Vikings, keen to call a spade a spade, seeing a rock in the heather called the place ‘Linklater’ from the two Norse words; lyng meaning heather and klettr a rock. For more on Orkney names see The Name Linklater. Two other islands have places called Linklater; North Ronaldsay and South Ronaldsay. [These modern spellings of ‘Ronaldsay’ conceal the fact that these two islands are unrelated while being at opposite extremes of the archipelago.] On North Ronaldsay, ‘Linklater’ usually has the older spelling, Linklet. For more on nomenclature see The Name Linklater.
Sandwick is almost surrounded by water; the Atlantic to the west; the fresh-water Loch of Harray to the east; and by Harray's uniquely conjoined tidal twin the Loch of Stenness to the south - unique, that is, in Britain, and highly significant topgraphically. Water plays a seemingly crucial part in Neolithic culture and here the Ness of Brodgar is the isthmus that divides, or unites, the sea and fresh water. It can be no coincidence that Neolithic henge- and tomb-builders constructed complex and astonishing monuments of international significance, pre-dating Stonehenge and the Pyramids, on and around the Ness of Brodgar.
The map above by John Thomson, originally published in 1822, is pretty hopelessly inaccurate. Keen cartophiles will notice that, among other things, I have corrected the line taken by the road from Stromness to Stenness via Aith. Thomson's, in common with all previous maps, made no distinction between the Lochs of Harray and ‘Stenhouse’, but by 1887, if not before, the Ordinance Survey named the lochs separately. The Thomson map also indulges in the bad habit of calling Mainland ‘Pomona’, but most heinous of all, it fails to indicate Linklater, an omission I have rectified. I only include the map because it is pretty! The red and yellow boundaries differentiate Bishoprick from Earldom lands. Three properties, referred to elsewhere, are indicated; Nether Benzieclett - NB, Kierfold - K, and East House - EH. Below is a slightly more useful map from O.S. 1887 which I have not tampered with other than to highlight Sandwick. At the very foot of the page are links to 6 images of an even more useful map; the 1880 O.S. 25” to the mile. These are very large images! See below for further details.
James Stevens Linklater was the last of my direct ancestors to be born and bred in Orkney whence, in due course, he emigrated to Scotland. He was born in Aith, Sandwick on 25 October 1850. Aith is at the eastern end of the Loch of Skaill. On the Thomson map it is called Aiths Town, whereas on the O.S. 1887 at right it is called East Aith. The 25” O.S. marks both West and East Aith, the latter including the Post Office where James was born and where he was last recorded living with his parents in the 1861 census. Thereafter he is absent from the Orkney record. The next positive sighting of him is when he married Amelia Agnes Bell in Maryhill, Glasgow on the 1st October 1878, although by then I believe he was already living in Leith where he certainly spent most of his life and where he died on the 21st of August 1899. For more about him see James Stevens LINKLATER, although at this stage the details are somewhat sketchy and researching his life is the most pressing on my list of things to do. However, his ownership of HERM, in the Channel Isles, is covered in some detail. James’ parents, David Linklater (1815-1874) and his wife Janet Irvine (1825-1902), were native Orcadians. Of the two, Janet was the echter Sandwickian being born and subsequently dying at Aith, whereas David was born in Kirbister in Stromness parish, towards which his forbears gravitated, as well as towards other parts of Sandwick. As if to symbolise this vacillation between Stromnness and Sandwick, David died in somewhat mysterious circumstances “on the evening of Friday the 16th of October between 6 and 7 p.m. on the Public Road leading from Stromness to Sandwick in the Parish of Stromness and about 1½ miles distant from Stromness.” [Quotation from his death certificate.]
Below are links to six large ZIP files containing images composed of FOUR or FIVE sheets from the 1880 Ordinance Survey at 25 inches to the mile. They cover, in six horizontal strips labelled A-F from north to south, the highlighted area on the O.S. Index sheet at right, and include bewteen them the whole of Sandwick. So, to be quite clear, image A, for example, is one image that seamlessly combines sheets XCIV/6, XCIV/7, XCIV/8 and XCV/5 from the original O.S. 25” surveys. The images are all JPEGs at 72 d.p.i. If you want bigger versions or different formats (PNGs, TIFFs etc) let me know. The size of each ZIP file is given above its respective thumbnail, [see below] - just so you know what to expect! I have found the best place for maps of Orkney and Scotland is the National Library of Scotland website.
|Click LETTERS at right to download large images.|
|For all 6 in one ZIP CLICK HERE. The ZIP is 12.0 MB.|
OR, click any image below for the same files.
|A||Sandwick - Birsay||4 sheets||7659 x 1332 px||2.20 MB|
|B||Northdyke - Skeabrae||4 sheets||7503 x 1338 px||1.97 MB|
|C||Bay of Skaill - Loch of Bosquoy||4 sheets||7708 x 1364 px||1.84 MB|
|D||Aith - Southernquoy to Russland||5 sheets||7917 x 1338 px||1.84 MB|
|E||Yeskenaby - Tenston||5 sheets||9123 x 1314 px||2.22 MB|
|F||Sandwick - Stromness||5 sheets||8943 x 1344 px||1.92 MB|