St Kilda Sunshine – the latest from Work Party 3

Today’s update from Donald and Work Party 3 on St Kilda:

At last, the weather has begun to improve!  Yesterday was low cloud and rain. One of our party, Austin, a keen photographer was up at the radar at 4.15am to watch the sun rise – he saw no sun!

So, yesterday we began work.

One job was to clear the drain across the village street which takes run-off from the hill away from House 6 and down to the field below the street.

This involved lifting the stones one at a time and ensuring that the drain below was clear. At times, the turf also had to be cut back.  Towards the bay side of the street, the drain was completely blocked by a cap stone which had fallen in to it some time in the past, probably following the installation of the electricity cable which crossed the street at that point. The stone was lifted out and the soil which had fallen in to the drain was cleared. The drain was tested in the usual manner of pouring a bucket of water in at the house side and watching as it flowed out the other side. Under guidance from Kevin (the Archaeologist), the work party members involved made a sketch of the drain as excavated.


Any digging on St Kilda seems to reveal “treasures” and indeed we were not disappointed. Found in this small excavation of a drain was a petite leather shoe, well preserved and a tiny horse shoe. With time, it had become welded to a stone. You can see from the scale, that the horse shoe is 8cm in breadth.

Following custom, after photographing these, they were returned to the place they had been found and the turves replaced. The area of the blockage was covered a large block of wood which shows that it is a recent addition and can never be mistaken for part of the original drain.

The church and school room has mould on the ceiling, and two of the group set about washing this off with extending window brushes. Not easy as it is difficult to exert much force when working above one’s head – think of roller painting a ceiling with a long handled roller. They did a grand job, and with one more wash, the ceiling could be repainted.

A shutter on the Feather Store had become detached, and one task is to repair the frame round the window, and repair the shutter. This involved removing the seized hinge. One problem is that we did not have a replacement hinge of a similar size. Where one would simply go to the nearest DIY store,  we do not have this luxury so had to replace both hinges. Then we found that in one, the screws were also seized so had to be drilled out. It took Stuart forever as the drill bits were blunt – where is a DIY shop when you need one.

As the weather improved yesterday evening, some of us went up to the Gap to allow the WP members to see that fantastic view across to Boreray.

Today the weather was better – sunshine and warm! Work on the shutter continued – the wood is now primed and can be painted tomorrow, A sticking door in the Feather Store has been planed down (and is also now primed) and one group started on Cleit turf repairs. This is good fun as once the old bit is cut away and tidied up, the new piece (cut from nearby) has to fit in the space

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Also today we opened the shop for visitors from some boats which are in the bay. The shop is stocked with all sorts of “must have” St Kilda souvenirs  – already one of the party has said that she has spent too much, and this is only her first time in the shop!

Finally, there was time towards the end of the day to sit outside House 1 (our living area) and have a cup of tea and piece of carrot cake made by Malcolm, our cook.

What we do tomorrow depends on whether or not a cruise ship arrives – she was due on Wednesday, but we gather that she may come tomorrow.  Landing 150 visitors means that we really need to be here for the shop. A case of “watch this space”.