Orkney Islands Council
Working together for a better Orkney

KGS sets traditional skills in stone

KGS sets traditional skills in stone
06 October 2017

Pupils from Kirkwall Grammar School had the chance this week to try their hand traditional building skills, with help from Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and the Kirkwall Townscape Heritage Initiative (KTHI).

Special workshops were held with S3 pupils during their Practical Craft lessons, looking at building with traditional stone materials. Skills sampled included carving onto limestone, building dry stone dykes with rubble and Orkney stone, as well as using brick and mortar building to demonstrate the comparison in building methods.

Stuart Woodrow, Principal teacher in Design and Technology at KGS explained how the workshops came about: “We approached the Kirkwall THI to see if we could tap into the project and get some help covering traditional building skills as part of Practical Craft.

“The THI team put us in touch with HES, who have pitched in to help with the cost of materials for these workshops, as well as giving specialist technical advice.

“It means pupils have the chance to explore this area of practical crafts, and sample the skills and knowledge that are still very much part of the Orkney economy.”

“We’re also in the process of getting advice from HES about the types of tools we could introduce into our workshop here at KGS, so that hopefully future students will be able to try their hand too.”

Gavin Douglas from HES added: “Giving young people a real flavour of what it is like to work with stone, including natural local materials, is a vital part of ensuring traditional skills remain an active part of the building industry. Today’s workshop is a great reminder of the importance of this as we look forward to Heritage Awareness Day on Friday.”

Andy Golightly, Project Officer with the KTHI said: “An important aim of the KTHI is to raise awareness of the town’s history, traditions and older buildings - hopefully sessions like this will inspire the next generation of skilled workers like these KGS students so they can look after that unique heritage.”