Birlinn: Longships Of The Hebrides

Overview

In the ancient church of St Clement's at Rodil, on the Isle of Harris, Alasdair Crotach - Alexander (the hunchback) Macleod - eighth chief of the Macleods of Harris and Dunvegan, prepared his elaborate tomb in 1528. Among the numerous intricately carved figures on the tomb is the finest true representation of a Hebridean birlinn in existence, carved with such meticulous technical detail that even the stitches on the panels of sailcloth are shown. Magnificent in style and form, awesome in their power, a thrilling ...
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Overview

In the ancient church of St Clement's at Rodil, on the Isle of Harris, Alasdair Crotach - Alexander (the hunchback) Macleod - eighth chief of the Macleods of Harris and Dunvegan, prepared his elaborate tomb in 1528. Among the numerous intricately carved figures on the tomb is the finest true representation of a Hebridean birlinn in existence, carved with such meticulous technical detail that even the stitches on the panels of sailcloth are shown. Magnificent in style and form, awesome in their power, a thrilling spectacle to behold - the birlinn of the Lords of the Isles. Imaginations are fuelled by the romance of those ancient ships, but very little thought is now given to the high degree of perfection achieved by the early shipwrights who accomplished this perfect marriage of wood, wind, and water; for the transport of men on epic voyages of discovery, great sea battles, clan feuds and raids, as well as the everyday tasks of a seafaring people. The birlinn is best known today in its stylised form as a device used on crests and coats of arms - the heraldic 'galley'. John Macaulay, a Harris islander and himself an experienced seaman and shipwright, explores the reality behind this romantic image, as he traces the evolution of the birlinn from the Viking longship, using his own technical knowledge and the oral traditions of the Islands to cast light on the practical skills which created these fabled vessels.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781874267300
  • Publisher: White Horse Press, The
  • Publication date: 1/1/1996
  • Pages: 122

Table of Contents

Foreword
Introduction 1
The Outer Hebrides 6
The Viking invasion and colonisation 11
The Norse influence 14
Lords, chieftains, and their need of swift transport 17
The birlinn and contemporary vessels 21
The craft of the shipwright 39
And the men who sailed them 60
Extinction 65
Transition 68
Relics 70
Beannachadh luinge (Ship blessing) 73
Conclusion 110
Glossary 112
Place-names: an aid to navigation 119
Bibliography 122
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