Walk Where Your People Walked

I read a blog post with this tagline on Cindy Freed’s Genealogy Circle – “Yep, I do have the chance and I’m gonna to do it” and this is my response to Cindy’s question, “Can you walk where your people walked?”

As Cindy is, I am very lucky to be able to walk where my people walked. I don’t currently live in Unst, but I lived there for many years of my life and I visit my parents who still live there on regular (“Not regularly enough” – Mum) occasions.

On one of my recent visits, my mum and I walked out to a pair of derelict croft houses at Clugan, where her great-grandmother lived as a little girl before the family were evicted to make space for larger sheep farms. It is a beautiful spot on a fine weather day with a sea view (well pretty much all of Shetland has a sea view – you can’t get more than three miles from the sea anywhere in Shetland) and the tiny island of Huney just across from the beach below the houses. I’m sure it is also a pretty wild place to be in bad weather, and as with many croft houses, fairly isolated.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Map of Clugan and Huney

Map showing Clugan crofts and Huney island. Click on the map to go to the zoom-able version on NLS the website

The above is a map surveyed in 1878, but the croft houses can also be seen on satellite images that make up the modern Google Maps.

If any of my readers can also walk where their ancestors walked, I’m sure Cindy would love to hear about it on her blog too.

10 thoughts on “Walk Where Your People Walked

  1. Morag – I enjoyed your post! What a beautiful place Clugan is. It is absolutely gorgeous and to think your great great grandmother lived there as a child! What a wonderful opportunity to walk in her footsteps!
    Thanks too for visiting my blog comment. I do appreciate it!
    ~ Cindy

  2. Dad told me that they could wade across to Huney Isle at low tide to collect birds eggs to suppliment what was probably a pretty poor diet at times.

  3. The slide show is an excellent tool! Pictures can convey so much more than words! I understand completely what you and Cindy are getting at. I live in the same borough of New York City where my Great Grandparents on both sides came to live after immigrating to America. We still have the ethnic communities they came from living here so I can touch some of the past and feel it in the present whenever I go about.

  4. I’m going to go as far as I can 🙂 My aim is to get everyone who has been recorded in any census or Birth, Marriage or Death record in Unst onto a family tree and then from there follow them to wherever they went to next, as many emigrated to New Zealand, Australia and Canada among other places. It’s going to take me many years, but I think it will be fun to do.

    • Thank you Judy. I do sometimes wonder if I have bitten off more than I can chew, but while it remains fun I continue. I love the puzzle solving aspect of the research.

  5. Hi Morag – I’m coming to this late – but you may be aware that Jessie Saxby writes about a time, when she was 8 (in 1850), ‘holidaying’ at Mam Willa’s house at Cloogan. She is with her mother and brother Benjamin – her mother is reciting Byron and the 104th psalm and wondering at the miracles of nature and landscape, as they look over to ‘Hoonie’. It’s a wonderful passage from ‘The Home of a Naturalist’ (p279-80). Jessie also mentions Hoonie being the haunt of the Katyogle (snowy owl) in other writings.

    • How marvellous. I have not yet read ‘The Home of a Naturalist’, but I definitely should. I never knew the Snowy Owls were on Huney, only on Fetlar when I was growing up.

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