The ruins of Shalter, a small croft high up on the hillside in Wasbister, bordering on the lands of Cairn and The Garret.
George Craigie and wife Mary Ann Craigie, daughter of James Craigie and Bella Marwick, lived there in the early 1800’s. They had a son John, who was born in 1833. In 1858 he married 23-year-old Betsy Louttit, daughter of Alexander Louttit and Janet Craigie of Lower Blackhammer. They had two sons, John, born on March 4th 1859, and William on November 23rd 1869.
In 1878, young John married 20-year-old Betsy Leonard, daughter of George Leonard and Margaret Clouston of Treblo in Sourin. George was brought up at Grain and later lived at nearby Stourameadow. Having been evicted from there when Quandale was cleared in the mid 1800s he went to live at Treblo.
Between 1879 and 1900 John and Betsy had ten children. The youngest, Margaret, was born at Treblo; Betsy and William were born at Westness; Mary, Isabella, John, and Emily were born at Shalter; and George, Hugh, and Annie were all born at Treblo. Their father John was the miller at the Sourin Mill for many years. In the early 1930’s he ran the Queen’s Hotel in Kirkwall with Isabella and Annie.
A later occupant of Shalter was Magnus Craigie. He was born on August 4th 1881, the third eldest of thirteen children born to Magnus Craigie and Ellen Cooper of Fealquoy and later Pliverha’. He was unmarried and lived at Shalter, and shared his father’s love of music, Magnus the elder being a renowned fiddler. Magnus junior was fond of dancing and attended dances even in his later years. He was an accomplished dancer, though his usual footwear consisted of a pair of hefty hobnail boots. Mansie confided in a friend of waking one morning after a dance at which, he admitted, he’d had a wee drop too much to drink. He was unable to recall any of the previous evening’s events, and making use of the royal ‘we’, which he frequently adopted, he added, “but when we woke up and saw we still had wir boots on, we kent we’d had a good night!”
Mansie o’ Shalter in his WW1 army uniform
[Picture from the Tommy Gibson collection]