Recently, I was looking through a book of old photographs that I'd borrowed from the local library. Amongst all the interesting pictures of times past was this photograph...
|Plate 137 from Images in Time (Orkney life through the lens of James W. Sinclair)|
The area looks very different now, not least because there are crash barriers to prevent vehicles falling into the sea. But more of the differences later.
With my appetite whetted, I searched for other images of the barrier on the web.
There is a site record on the webpage of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, with five images taken at different times. This aerial photograph from the late 1940s shows the barrier and block ships from overhead.
The barrier is still a narrow causeway between the North Sea and Scapa Flow.
Contemporaneous with the above shots I can but assume, is this postcard which is now available on eBay.
One of the local ferry companies, Northlink, has a short article about the barriers on its website, where the image below can be found. Sadly, I do not have a date for this photo.
However, as can clearly be seen, not only has the power of the sea begun to break up the block ships, but a sandy beach has formed.
Probably from around the same time, a postcard was issued, also now available, like so much else, on eBay.
Moving forward in time to nearer the present, the road across the barrier was upgraded and fitted with crash fencing on the Scapa Flow side, as can be seen in this photograph from a genealogy page of the Cromarty and Ross family.
These days, the dune system on the east side of the barrier is still growing. and after south easterly storms, the sand has to be removed from the road. I nipped across to Burray this afternoon to try to recreate the first photograph at the top of the page. Coincidentally, a hailstorm was coming in from the west, so I didn't hang around long!
Finally, here's a shot from a different day, from the other end of the dunes and looking back to where the original photograph was taken, approximately right of centre where the small white building is located.
I find this dynamic landscape enthralling, that such a habitat can be formed within the span of a human lifetime. Where was the sand's original location? How has the movement from one place to another affected wildlife? Which reminds me, today was obviously a camera day, so no Snow Buntings. Gah!