Quoyness chambered tomb on an apple a day

Many years ago when digging in Sanday our neighbour was a sweet elderly lady called Margaret, sadly no longer with us, who still made delicious farmhouse 'squeaky cheese' the traditional way, in her kitchen with the help of her many cats. Lots of farms used to do this in Orkney - pin money for the farmer's wife, sold to the van man that came out from the town, milk from their own little milk cow, usually a Dexter. Public health regulations these days mean this is a thing of the past apart from a couple of commercial dairies. We ate loads of Margaret's cheese & it never did us any harm - mind I grew up on unpasteurised farmhouse milk so I was used to it. You're probably by now wondering what this has to do with apples and Quoyness tomb but there is a connection:


Interior of Quoyness tomb

You see, as a young schoolgirl in the 1950s Margaret was very interested in archaeology and used to walk the couple of miles from her house out to Quoyness tomb to see the dig being supervised by V Gordon Childe with Ministry of Works labour. She was so interested that Childe let her join in with the digging and he paid her for her work - at the rate of an apple a day! This was quite something in post-war Sanday, since apples don't grow in Orkney and fresh fruit and vegetables had to be brought in to the County, then on to Sanday by another boat (still do for that matter). Not a side to V Gordon Childe that you usually think of - I wish I'd had the wit to sit down on one of our days off and talk to her at great length about Childe and Quoyness and her experiences, but I was young and stupid and all I cared about was getting down the pub. Life's wasted on the young!


Close-up of cell entrances in Quoyness tomb

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Swandro - Orkney Coastal Archaeology Trust 

Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation No: SC047002 

Patron: His Royal Highness The Prince Charles, the Duke of Rothesay

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