The Shetland Boat an Iconic Folk Material, Cultural Object? Marc Chivers, Post Graduate Research Student
The Bød, Hillswick. Note the vast quantity of fish curing on the drying beach. Threesixerns are drawn up the beach. Photo: John Irvine, C. 1880. Shetland Museum & Archive
Gokstad ship Photo: Viking Ship Museum, Oslo
Gokstad færing & seksæring Photo: Viking Ship Index http://home.online.no/~joeolavl/viking/gokstadfaering.htm
A newly built Oselverfæring Bjørnevik, H, F. (online) Available from<https://plus.google.com/photos/115339695696486245097/albums/5715774119297564321/5715774796366986946?banner=pwa&pid=5715774796366986.> [20 May 2014]
Fishing yoals, unloading saitheGrutness pier, Dunrossness Goudie, G. (1915) Photo: Shetland Museum & Archive.
Yoal racing at Sandwick regatta Photo: Shetland Museum & Archive
Broad tangible themes • The construction and design of the boats were Norwegian in origin up until around 1750. • These Norwegian boat forms and their method of construction made the boats suited for their operational environment. • Derivatives of these boats are still in use today.
The broad intangible themes • Shetland sailors gained an international reputation as excellent seaman. • The Shetland sixern achieved iconic status through the fact that most Shetland men led a fishing life and used these boats up until the mid to late 1880’s. • The iconic status of the sixern is maintained through documented stories and images of these boats.
Shetland context • Traditional assumption that the Norwegians continued to use the færings and seksæringswhen they settled. • Were these small boats imported were they constructed in Shetland? • The later Shetland boats evolved for a purpose and without the purpose (fishing) they will not have developed.
Shetland context • Current evidence suggests that commercial boatbuilding did not begin in Shetland until the early 19th century. • Earliest Norwegian import evidence 1566-67. • Boat imports were tax free until 1575.
Shetland context • Pre-existing boat imports prior to 1566 is assumed because Shetland has no timber resources of its own. • 1807 Napoleonic war and the British blockade of Norwegian ports is assumed to be the starting point for boat building in Shetland. • Current evidence suggests that the sixernand fourern developed at some point between 1750 and 1836. • Not known when the Fair Isle and Ness Yoal developed.
The Jæltebadde or Hjeltebåt • 1836 boats called Jæltebadde (prototype sixern) no one knows what they looked like. • Jæltebadde or Hjeltebåtdeveloped because fishermen had to travel further to the fishing grounds. • Haaf is Old Norse and means ocean. • White fish stocks by 1750 were 40-50 miles offshore.
The Sixern and Fourern Sixareen ‘Industry’ racing at Walls. Photo: Shetland Museum & Archive Peterson, J. (1951) Fouareen ‘Aurora’, Walls. Photo: Shetland Museum & Archive
Material Culture Definition “The objects that man has learned to make are traditionally termed material culture. Culture is intellectual, rational and abstract; it cannot be material, but material can be cultural and ‘material culture’ embraces those segments of human learning which provide a person with plans, methods, and reasons for producing things which can be seen and touched”. (Glassie 1968: 2).
Folk material cultural object Definition The object’s form is incorporated into the tradition of the culture in which it was created. (Glassie 1968: 2).
Iconic Imagery Parker’s four-point definition for the term ‘cultural Icon.’ • Cultural icons are always images. • These images are distinct, durable, and reproducible. • They reside in the collective memory of large groups of people. • They reveal discernible tragic-dramatic narratives that are formed and received by communities particularly receptive to the development of iconic meaning. (Parker, 2012: 12)
Primary Cultural Icon “… distinct images; they have durability that reflects their cultural value; a mental image of the icon can be reproduced from the name prompt, and vice versa (reproducibility); and they are inseparable from natural tragic-dramatic narratives which have significance for communities receptive to the iconic image”. (Parker, 2012: 241)
Shetland Croft Rattar, J, D. Croft at Fogrigarth, Aithsting Photo: Shetland Museum & Archive.
Home Mainland, T. (1910’s) Sinclair family, Skibberhoull, Whalsay & Skerries. Photo: Shetland Museum & Archive.
Northmavine, Fedalandhaaf station. SixernEmpress LK 280 and two fourerns Photo: Shetland Museum & Archive
Icons tell great stories The Skidbladner a replica of the Gokstad ship, HaroldswickUnst.