Robert C. Marwick

Robert Craigie Marwick

It is about time I paid tribute to Robert Craigie Marwick – for it is he who got me started on delving into the history of Rousay and the folk who lived here in the past.

Born in 1922, he was one of thirteen children born to John Gibson Marwick, Knarston, later Innister, and Anna Logie Craigie, Post Office, Hullion. Being an incomer I didn’t know him that well, for by the time I came here he had long since moved away from Rousay. After graduating from Aberdeen University he trained as a teacher, ending up as head of a large primary school in Kilwinning, Ayrshire.

Robert contacted me in 2004 before accompanying a group of Canadian and American Craigie descendants to Rousay, and I agreed to photographically record their visit. I had the honour of hosting him and his guests in my home, for one of the old houses they visited was nearby Greysteen; the others being Brough on the Westside, and Mount Pleasant, above Hullion in Frotoft.

Robert and his guests at Deithe – down at the Broch of Midhowe, and below with his lifelong friend Cathleen Craigie, of Furse and later Craigie Cottage.

Robert is, of course, the author of the well-thumbed book Rousay Roots. After a number of reprints Robert leapt into the computer age and created the Rousay Roots website. He also published the Rousay Censuses, including Egilsay, Wyre, and Eynhallow, and catalogued all the burials in the island’s kirkyards. Since his passing, the Rousay Roots website is continued to this day by Robert’s nephew John Marwick.

In 1995 he published From My Rousay Schoolbag – a fascinating history of the island’s schools, which includes schoolday reminiscences by former pupils. The text of his second book, In Dreams We Moor, is told in the way of a ‘letter’ to an Australian cousin of his. Published in 2000 the book contains a wealth of island history and life as it used to be, with fascinating personal stories and anecdotes. Don’t bother to search for these ‘out-of-print’ books on Amazon – both books are available for purchase from the Rousay Crafthub. Click on the logo below to go to its website, and then click on ‘Local Books’ in the menu.