Downloadable Itinerary HERE Payment button is at the end of the article
Clan Gunn Mini-Gathering – Orkney – September 2024
As some of you may remember, as part of the review of the Gathering process it was decided to move the International Gathering to a four-year cycle (next one due in 2026) and instead of having annual mini-gatherings (which were not always well attended), these would now also be moved to a four-year cycle but would be held in the intervening 2 years (2024 and 2028). In addition, we intended to slightly increase the duration of the mini-gatherings and also try to include a few more activities to improve their attractiveness.
So with this in mind, I am delighted to present the programme for the first “new look” mini-gathering which will be held in September next year in Orkney. This will take place over a long-weekend 13th -15th September and the clan will be centred in Kirkwall. We are also experimenting with the date (September) as we were asked to try to include events in the “shoulder months” when travel (particularly long-distance flights) is usually cheaper.
You will find below the planned itinerary which may change a little between now and next September, but hopefully not much. Numbers are limited to 40, so places will be allocated on a “first come first served” basis and I would therefore ask that you reply as soon as possible. The closing date for bookings will be March 31st 2024. In the first instance, please can you complete the booking form (in this edition of the Herald) and return it to me at the address at the bottom of the form. I have also included an email address in case you prefer to scan the form and email it. Alternatively, you can complete the online form at our website https://www.clangunnsociety.org/ ). Payment can be made either by cheque (made payable to the Clan Gunn Society) or by PayPal through the link on our website.
Clan Gunn Mini-Gathering Itinerary – September 13th – 15th Orkney
Friday 13th September
6.00pm Meet in the bar of the Kirkwall Hotel for welcome drinks (at your own expense).
7.30pm 2 course welcome dinner at the Kirkwall Hotel.
Saturday 14th September – Coach Tour of Norse Orkney
9:30am Coach to leave Kirkwall and drive to Tingwall (Evie parish) to hear stories about the islands of Egilsay, Wyre and Gairsay (the winter base of the Norse chieftain Sweyn Asleifsson, from whom Clan Gunn also claim descent). Your guides will relate their findings into the possible early Norse (pre-Christian Viking) ritual use of this landscape – especially the Norse ting site and possible holy hills. Comfort stops available at ferry terminal.
11:00am Coach to Broch of Gurness (Evie) – an icon of Orkney’s rich archaeological heritage. This impressive Iron Age complex is one of the most outstanding examples of a later prehistoric settlement to survive in Scotland. Guides will describe the site with a focus on early pre-Christian Norse reuse of the site.
We will walk part of the St Magnus Way (approximately 1 mile / 1.5kms) along the beach and track to other side of Evie Sands (where there are comfort stops available). The coach will drive around to meet us (option to stay on coach if you find walking difficult).
1:00pm Lunch – Birsay Tea Rooms – (set menu of vegetarian soup with cheese scones, choice of a hot beverage, selection of cakes plus fruit scones with jam and cream)
Visit Brough of Birsay: Thorfinn the Mighty’s powerbase, medieval monastic remains and remains of Norse settlements. We will also visit the late medieval Earl’s palace (ruins), St Magnus Church, Manswel (holy well where Magnus’ relics were washed whilst being translated to Kirkwall).
3:30pm Round Kirk and Norse Bu site ruins at Orphir. Comfort stop and shelter available in Orkneyinga Saga Centre. The landscape of Swanbister.
5:00pm Coach to Quoyloo Old School for Viking entertainment and evening feast. We will be served a traditional Viking feast by people in traditional Viking dress and the evening will also include Norse music, story-telling, Faroese dancing, mini-axe throwing as well as other Viking crafts and entertainments. There will be some drink served, most likely in Viking drinking horns, but there will also be a bar available to buy further drinks at your own expense.
11.15am Service at St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall. St Magnus Cathedral was founded in 1137, and is dedicated to St Magnus, Earl of Orkney in the 12th century (who Clan Gunn claim descent from) at a time when Orkney was part of the Kingdom of Norway. He was killed on the orders of his cousin and rival Hakon, and many miracles were reported after this death. In 1137 Magnus’s nephew Rognvald began construction of the ‘fine minster’ in honour of his saintly uncle; Magnus and Rognavald’s relics remain interred in pillars in the choir.
12.30pm Lunch at your own discretion. There are several good cafes and restaurants close to St Magnus Cathedral which we can give you details of nearer the time.
2.00pm Walking guided tour of the Norse parts of Kirkwall.
5.00pm Return to Kirkwall Hotel.
9.00pm The coach leaves Quoyloo Old School to return to Kirkwall for 9.30pm.
Sunday 15th September
7.00pm Farewell drinks in the Kirkwall Hotel (at your own expense) followed by a Free Evening.
We have reserved 15 rooms at the Kirkwall Hotel on a bed and breakfast basis; classic doubles £150/night. Deluxe doubles £170/night and singles at £115/night. These will be released on a first come first served basis and you should mention that you are with the Clan Gunn Gathering party when booking. https://www.kirkwallhotel.com/
While the Kirkwall Hotel will act as the hub of the Mini-Gathering, there is no compulsion to stay there and there is a wide variety of alternative accommodation in Kirkwall to suit most pockets https://www.orkney.com/plan/accommodation . If you decide to stay somewhere else, please can you ensure that it is in withing easy walking distance of the Kirkwall Hotel as coaches and tours will leave from outside the Kirkwall Hotel.
There are a number of ways that you can travel to Orkney and the website https://www.orkney.com/plan/getting-here provides details of them. The most popular way is by ferry from either John O’Groats, Gills Bay or Scrabster (Thurso) and there are bus services from Wick and Thurso to most of them. The ferries from Scrabster and Gills Bay both take cars while the John O’Groats ferry is passenger only but included in the price is a bus to Kirkwall. It is also possible to fly and the flight takes approximately 1 hour from either Edinburgh, Glasgow or Aberdeen.
Once you have your total and sent your form to John then please use the button below to make payment. Please just add the total amount for your full party as one payment.
All Photo Credits to TripAdvisor