We received a lovely email yesterday, from archaeologist Alexandra 'Lekky' Shepherd, who had been visiting Orkney to attend a conference. She popped into our shop on Broad Street, The Longship, and enjoyed what she saw very much. Except for one thing! We'll let her explain:
"I noticed that the little information card for the Westray pendant and ring was wrong. They are not based on the Pierowall spiral stone discovered in 1981 as it says, but on a piece of pottery discovered in the earlier excavations at Links of Noltland in 1980 (some time before the present campaign of digging began).
"I know this because it was myself who supplied the drawing on which it is based. When we were digging there (Dr David Clarke's excavations) Ola asked if we had excavated anything that could be used in her Orkney heritage range - at that time we weren't finding anything that was obviously usable: we were producing only bone and stone tools and pottery (a long time before the Westray Wife appeared!) but I thought that one of the pot sherds which had a design of lines above a sort of fish-scale pattern (which you see best on the pendant) might make something good in silver. I sent a drawing of this and a suggested design to Ola .... and hence the Westray pattern emerged.
"I still have the thank-you note for it from Ola herself together with the box in which she sent me the prototype of the pendant and ring which I treasure.
"I would love to see a version of the Pierowall spiral stone produced by Ola - that would be wonderful. In the meantime could the information card on the Westray silver be changed to reflect its origins more accurately? I do love Ola's jewellery and only write because I'm being a typical archaeologist - always trying to get things just right!"
What a pleasure to get a direct insight into the moment of inspiration of one of Ola's designs, from 37 years ago no less! Huge thanks to Lekky for pointing out our mistake, and for helping us get the wording right on our website. The next time we reprint our paper catalogue, and provenance cards, we'll correct it there too.
How on earth (or under the earth!) did this error come to be? I'm afraid that is lost in the mists of time...the 1980s...
You can see the (now correctly described) Westray collection here: https://www.olagoriejewellery.com/collections/westray