24th May 2018
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

A delightful piece of work, and a very important one to boot

A Pictorial Daander Trowe Shetland’s Crofting Culture. Published by Shetland Cattle from Shetland Breeders Group, £20.

This is an absolutely delightful piece of work, and a very important one. Rather than compromise on production values, the editorial collective has gone for broke, and published something which will stand the test of time and be a source of pleasure to all manner of folk, whether they are Shetland cattle breeder, or enthusiasts, or folk with a deep interest in crofting culture, or indeed other with a more superficial interest in either.

This is not a book to be read from front to back. I should say that anybody who picks it up, with a knowledge of the breed, or of Shetland crofting, is most likely first to go through it examining the splendid collection of photos. Then they will look through the index and pick the pieces which particularly pique their interest. And in the end, it will most likely all be read, and spoken about; just not in a linear fashion.

For myself, I was interested first to see that all the stalwarts who kept the breed alive through thick and thin, and contributed most to keeping and making it distinctive. That had to include Aald Tammie, Tammie Isbister of the Glebe, who kept the flame burning nearly single handed, at one time, as well as excellent stock breeders such as Robert Ramsay and Mansie Burgess, to name but two of many. And that great lamented champion of all the Shetland breeds, Stanley Bowie. I think I still hear him saying: “I’m ower 90 noo, doo knows!”

They are all there. I would say there is nobody who has made a contribution who has been left out. But the book is rich in so many other ways.

We are fortunate in Shetland to have a vast and well organised photo archive, in general. We were fortunate also to have very active photographers here since the earliest days. With this new volume, however, the editors have discovered and selected an embarrassment of riches, as far as pictures are concerned, a great deal of which have never been publicly available. That is a great service in itself.

For anyone who is looking for a Christmas present for anybody with an interest in Shetland cows or Shetland culture generally, they need look no further. Well done to all concerned.

Drew Ratter