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Phoenix Cinema, Kirkwall

Just 20,000 years ago, Orkney was covered by a kilometre of ice, part of a huge mass that reached out beyond Scotland. Huge glaciers were sometimes in slow motion, and traces of their paths can still be seen today in the scrubbed sides of some of Orkney’s hills. Over the years, geologists such as the great Victorians Ben Peach and John Horne have found evidence of rocks carried by the glaciers, and in a new film by Selena Kuzman, Dr John Flett Brown and Dr Adrian Hall follow in their footsteps – and find some rocks that have travelled a long distance to reach Orkney.


Phoenix Cinema, Kirkwall

Our political decision-making systems, national and international, have developed over centuries. Sometimes – as with the many COP meetings – they operate extremely slowly. Sometimes with economic decisions they move dangerously fast. One difficulty is the sheer complexity and uncertainty of situations. But, says Prof. Iain Alasdair MacLeod, the discipline of system planning is standard practice for such situations, and is widely used. So could system planning also be used for political decision-making? And if so, how? Former Scottish Education Minister Peter Peacock chairs and welcomes questions and discussion.


Peedie Kirk Hall, Palace Road, Kirkwall

Meet friends old or new and enjoy the best of Orkney cheese, meat, fish and baking. The One O’Clock Toast today is in memory of Kirkwall Provost James Flett, stationer and antiquarian. It is given by Spencer Rosie, his great-nephew.



Phoenix Cinema, Pickaquoy, Kirkwall

Dr Tom Flett, born 100 years ago from an Orkney family in Glasgow, took his PhD at Cambridge under the supervision of one of the greatest mathematicians of the time, John Littlewood and went on to become professor of mathematics at Sheffield. But he is better known across Scotland and further afield as the co-author with his wife Joan of the classic book Traditional Dancing in Scotland, which gathered together a wealth of information about dances and dancers. Their daughters Jane Harrison and Lindsay Smith tell the family story, and a mathematician looks at the mathematical background.


Phoenix Cinema, Pickaquoy, Kirkwall

The Fletts have long been to the fore in almost every aspect of Orkney life from Orkneyinga Saga times onwards, from farming and business to education and study, and not forgetting numerous victorious Harray teams in the Parish Cup. How far back can we trace them? And where did they originally come from? Prof. Jim Flett Wilson of Edinburgh University brings genetics together with family history to trace the story – and goes on to look at the Drevers, the Sinclairs, the Rendalls and the Linklaters, among others, as well.


Orkney Theatre, KGS, Kirkwall

Back in the 1950s Orkney has a pioneering wind turbine. It was situated on Costa head to get the full force of wind – which indeed in January 1953 destroyed it. But it showed what could be done and led the way for other wind developments in Orkney and elsewhere. Neil Kermode of EMEC looks at its story and significance, while archaeologist Dan Lee traces the clues from the remains.


ICIT, Robert Rendall Building, Stromness

And can we trust them? The best way is to try them out for yourself, and the team from the National Robotarium in Edinburgh have brought several of their favourite robots to Orkney for the Festival. It’s an opportunity to try out some of the latest robot technology, and enjoy activities and discussions to explore how humans interact with robots and meet some of the people developing the technology for the future. It’s aimed at people of 18 and over, and numbers are limited to 25, so booking is essential. The National Robotarium is the UK’s centre for Robotics and Artificial Intelligence.


Orkney Theatre, KGS, Kirkwall

70 years ago the Earl Thorfinn, on her round of the North Isles, was hit by a hurricane and had to run before the wind towards Aberdeen. Captain Hamish Flett and his crew coped with mountainous seas that smashed her steering gear and conditions that destroyed other vessels. How did the ship survive, and how has marine communication developed over the years to help in such situations? Prof. Tom Stevenson tells the story.


Orkney Club, Kirkwall

It took haystacks and henhouses, and massive seas opened up Kirkwall’s waterfront. The previous year had seen a hurricane, and 1953 brought the full force of the weather on to Orkney again, as Dr Tom Rendall hears, with recordings past and present and archive photos. Joining him are Ailsa Seatter from Westray, Billy Cardno from Kirkwall, and Donnie Grieve from Harray, along with recently recorded accounts from Isa Stanger in Kirkwall, Jim Pratt in Shapinsay and Jim Lennie in Sanday. Sarah Jane Gibbon reads a description written by her grandmother, Bessie Skea (Countrywoman).

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