The Shetland boat: history; folklore & construction

by Kirsty Halcrow -

Shetland Museum and Archives is set to broadcast its first live lecture online from the auditorium on Thursday 14 May.

Marc Chivers is currently undertaking a three year, full-time, PhD research project looking at the history, folklore and construction of Shetland Boats. He will deliver his lecture on the subject, and viewers worldwide will be able to join him, thanks to technical support from the Promote Shetland broadcast team. The lecture is also free to attend in person.

The subject matter is of particular interest to historians, boat builders and mariners. The nineteenth century traditional, double-ended, and clinker constructed open four and six-oared boats are unique to Shetland. These boats share similarities with four and six-oared boats in Norway, both in terms of boat naming convention, boat construction, and boat shape, but there are also some significant differences as well. Marc's seminar will examine the evidence for the boat trade with Norway and attempt to determine when Shetland began to build Shetland specific boats.

Marc commented:

“Shetland"s boats it must be remembered existed because there was a need for them, they were the cars and lorries of their day, and the sea and voes were the roads upon which people transported themselves, their goods, livestock, and by which they also earned a living through fishing.“Like all everyday objects the value of these boats was not recognised until they, and the people who used and built them began to disappear. The boats as objects are of huge cultural importance, as are the people who built and used them.”

Marc has spent a considerable amount of time in the Shetland Archives examining the Bruce of Symbister collection of papers, and has found a number of interesting things during this research. This includes a discovery that boatbuilding in Shetland began earlier than previously thought.

The lecture is free to attend in the auditorium. Doors will open at 6.30pm for a 7.00pm start. Those who want to tune in online can view the lecture at 60 North TV

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