With a multitude of scheduled sites and monuments, you may be at a loss as to which archaeological treasures to visit when you’re only in Shetland for a limited time. This podcast will outline the top archaeological attractions and take you on a voyage of discovery through 6,000 years of human history.
In the show, we begin in Shetland’s Mesolithic Period where hunter-gatherer people first arrived here, in search of food. From the Mesolithic, we journey through the Neolithic and see the first farmers settle in Shetland, beginning a long period of occupation. After the Neolithic comes the Bronze Age, a brief period that precedes a long and, often difficult, Iron Age. We look at how the Vikings and Norse settlers brought a wave of change to the islands and, finally, explore Shetland’s transition into Scotland, and what that has meant for us culturally, today.
Hello and welcome to episode 16 of the podcast. In today’s show, I’m talking about books and literature from Shetland.
“What to read” is something that I’m asked time and time again. I’ve written a blog about my favourite Shetland fiction books, and this podcast will include those, as well as my favourite non-fiction books too.
I’ll ease you in gently and begin by introducing my favourite Shetland fiction novels and the reasons why I’ve chosen them. Where they are still available, I’ll leave a link in the show notes on my website for you to buy them.
Hello and welcome to episode 15 of the podcast. This was an accidental podcast, so I may lapse into dialect a bit more as usual, and I don’t welcome my guest in the same way! But, today’s episode is with Greg McCarron from the Shetland Film Archive. Greg has been working for several years with the Film Archive, which is a charitable organisation that collects, preserves and protects the film material of Shetland, making it publicly available to be enjoyed. Recently the group received some funding to digitise more film material, and that’s what I’m chatting to Greg about in this call.
When I was listening back to the call, I realised that this was an interesting topic and would make a good podcast episode. Also, for those keen to get involved, listen to Greg and find out how you can volunteer to help the Film Archive.
Greg is also an old friend who now lives on the Scottish mainland and works for Scottish TV, so it was really lovely to catch up with him.
In this episode, we find out about the films that the Shetland Film Archive holds, a little bit about the history of film in Shetland and some of the technical stuff that I was unsure about - like when we start to see sound coming into these films.
I found out so much about the history of film and why it’s such an important historical tool.
So, let’s dive in and hear what Greg has to say.
Hello! And welcome back to season two of the Shetland with Laurie podcast. I’m absolutely thrilled to be back behind the mic bringing you another season and, more importantly, I’m touched that so many of you, the listeners, have asked for another season.
This episode is a solo show and it’s the findings of some recent research that I’ve done into the witches of Shetland - those who were tried and executed for witchcraft.
It’s going to be a long episode as I kept getting lost down rabbit holes in the archives and I found out so much about this shocking period in our history.
The first laws pertaining to witchcraft followed the Reformation in Scotland in 1563. The Church began to focus more heavily on controlling parishioners, ensuring their moral credentials were high. The Witchcraft Act remained in law until 1736, and the 17th century saw a manifestation of control between Church and State as a real fear of witchcraft steadily grew, fuelled by a monarch who was obsessed with his nation’s morality.
King James VI introduced revised laws on witchcraft in the early 1600s and it wasn’t long before witch-hysteria swept the nation, resulting in the well-known witch hunts and the trials of some 4,000 women and men ( it’s important to say that about 15 per cent of those executed in Scotland as witches were men), of which, an estimated 2,500 were executed and burned at the stake.
Not every witch was a woman, but every woman was a potential witch and the ingredients that made a witch tended to favour women; women were more likely to quarrel where men tended to fight, and people feared the words of women and believed that their curses could come true. Similarly, witches were often accused of sleeping with the devil, and as the devil was not believed to be homosexual, it was thought less likely that men could fall under his spell. The belief that the devil actively sought women was widely held at this time.
It’s important to say that, although today we see some of the allegations against these women as far-fetched, in the 17th century these fears were very real and they were very much believed by a god-fearing nation who explained the unexplainable with God or the Devil. Good or evil. If a sudden gale was to blow up on a summer’s day, there was no modern weather forecasting that could explain it. And just as today, people sought answers to explain disasters and, in many cases, witchcraft was blamed.
The notion that the devil could walk among people in the form of a human man, tempting those of questionable morality away from God, was not seen as outlandish. The devil was always believed to be just around the corner and people were on constant guard against him. Similarly, ordinary people believed in the power of words and curses. We’ve all heard that old saying that “the pen is mightier than the sword”. 17th century Scotland, and Shetland, was a deeply superstitious place.
Those convicted of witchcraft faced long trials. They were held in prison, questioned and often tortured. They were then tried and sentenced. Death was by strangulation before their dead bodies were burned at the stake so as to leave no form to bury.
I hope that you enjoy this episode, and I will leave a warning that it does include tales of execution so if you are feeling fragile, you might want to skip this one.
So, let’s get stuck in.
On today’s show, I speak to Ellie Duncan from Island Ceramics. Ellie is a ceramicist who makes incredible one-of-a-kind hand-crafted pieces that are inspired by her love of the sea and her island home. Ellie is also a photographer who loves to capture the many forms that the sea can take.
In this episode, we talk about how she started her business and how she found herself at the potter's wheel. We speak about how the sea inspires her work and how using the colours and the dialect words that we use to describe the sea are important to her collections.
We speak about her photography and how she has been taking photographs since she was 11 years old, and why it's important to slow down and live in the moment.
We also discuss the problems associated with plastic pollution and how everyone can do their bit to mitigate these.
All this and more, in today's show!
Hello, and welcome to Episode 12, and the last in this first series of the Shetland with Laurie podcast.
Today's guest needs absolutely no introduction - author of over 30 critically acclaimed novels, international worldwide bestseller, the creator of popular TV detectives Vera Stanhope and Shetland’s very own Jimmy Perez - I am so excited to welcome the hugely talented Ann Cleeves to the show!
In today's show, we speak about Ann's new book, the latest in the popular Vera series, The Darkest Evening, and her inspiration behind the Vera and Shetland series and about her time in Shetland and Fair Isle.
We discuss her writing routine and how she feels particularly drawn to Shetland as a place that she has been visiting for over 40 years.
Today on the show, I’m very excited to have blogger, adventurer and Shetlander Bee Leask who you may know from her Instagram @bumblebambi join me. Bee grew up in Shetland and now lives in Scotland, but Shetland is very much a part of how she identifies and it has shaped her life in so many ways which we discuss in this episode. I started following her a few years ago and was so inspired by her adventures in the highlands and Islands where she is busy ticking off all Scotland’s inhabited islands and 282 Munros.
In the show we speak about community, belonging, overcoming challenges and we talk a lot about hiking in Scotland and the beauty of our island communities.
Hello, and welcome to episode 10 of the Shetland with Laurie podcast.
This is a big one for me, and probably the most requested topic that you’ve asked me to discuss.
Today I’m going to talk about language in Shetland, and, if I’m honest - I have no idea where to start with it! It’s a huge topic and it permeates every aspect of life here; it is the very fabric that holds our community and culture together. Without this common language, that has evolved over the years, Shetland would be unrecognisable and our heritage far less rich and nourishing to those who live here.
This is such an emotive topic for me and it brings up so many feelings of both pride and also fear and sadness. It brings me pride because I’m deeply proud of our language, its roots and its place in our culture and heritage, and it brings me fear and sadness because, as with any other marginal language, it’s under increasing threat. It’s onstantly being eroded, changed and lost by external forces for various reasons which I’ll discuss as we explore the topic more deeply.
My accent and the language we speak here is something I am constantly asked about - especially when I have people on tours and they pick up on my strong accent, the intonation of my voice and the way I pronounce vowels in particular. Guests often apologise that English is not their first language, and to that, I tell them that it’s not my first language either!
On today’s show, I’m tackling Shetland folklore and all the mythical creatures that inhabit our islands. Folklore was a huge part of Shetland’s society and culture in pre-modern times. Many of the folktales have been written down and, although many have now been forgotten, they can still be found in books and literature.
The dramatic coastline and moorland expanses have given rise to a rich and deep-rooted culture of folklore, superstition and deeply-embedded traditions.
In the past, education, literature and access to news was limited, even within the isles. Travel for pleasure was almost unheard of, and a venture out into the neighbouring parish or district was a novelty. Friends and neighbours, particularly in winter, would gather together beside the fireside and share stories and tales of the past to occupy the long winter nights. This chapter will explore some of these stories.
Today we cover trows, njuggles, witches & wizards, giants, selkies and sea creatures who have all played a prominent role in the folklore of Shetland.
If you have enjoyed listening to the podcast, you can support it and help me bring more of them to you via Patreon. Patreon also gives you access to unpublished essays, videos and much more!
On today’s episode, I chat to Aimee Budge from the Bigton Farm. Aimee, and sister Kirsty, took over their family farm in 2014 following the unexpected death of their father. Aged just 17 and 21 when they took over, they have achieved great things since they took over, including an appearance on the BBC’s hit show This Farming Life. They were also winners of the prestigious BBC Countryfile’s Farming Heroes Award in 2018
A little about Laurie
Hello, and welcome to my podcast. I hope that you find what you're looking for, whether you are planning that perfect holiday or maybe you're from Shetland and looking for some inspiration. Hopefully, there is something here for everyone.