Orkney Shells: A Reference Collection and an Archaeological Site
10 November 2022
The study of shells has been something that has often fascinated various people over the years and Stromness Museum has frequently hosted there works. In this talk we shall be looking at two examples of how the study of marine molluscs has woven its way into exhibitions. Robert Rendall is a very well-known figure in Orkney and was a man of many skills, talents, and hobbies. Alongside being a skilled poet, a preacher and painter, Rendall was a passionate naturalist. He had a particular love for shells and went on to publish extensively on the subject, with special focus given to the shell species found around Orkney. After his passing in the 1960s, he bequeathed his shell collection to Stromness Museum, where it is still housed now and available to researchers as a reference collection. Reference collections are vitally important and contribute heavily to many projects surrounding the natural world. Reference collections, such as Robert Rendall’s prove useful in the examination of the archaeological shell assemblage from the site of The Cairns. These shells formed a part of the recent exhibition ‘The Cairns: Living in the Landscape’ hosted by the museum and tell an interesting story of how people in the Iron Age interacted with marine resources.