This aerial colour photograph is of a stone wall with an additional wall jutting off ending in a small circular enclosure.

A stone kiss

image: Gunnie Moberg D135-2-442

Gunnie Moberg’s photography can be read as a love letter to the Orkney landscape, in this one Gunnie signs off with a huge stone X. This image of a sheep fort appears in Gunnie’s 1979 Stone Built book. She took the photograph from the air with pilot Andy Alsop, the shape reminding her of her husband Tam’s sculptures.

In this black and white aerial ophotograph, a huge stone X sits like a kiss at the end of a love letter on the rough moorland.

image: Gunnie Moberg c. 1979. ‘A Bucht, Mainland Orkney. A shelter protecting sheep from the winds blowing in every direction.’ – From Stone Built

Recently we were scanning some of Gunnie later slides of sheep shelters, strange stone shapes like codes written across the land. In the days before cars, before farmers saw the sheep sheltering potential of a field abandoned ford, stone walls were built for animals to lean up against on a blowy day. Could this circular enclosure be a bucht or a pund?


A circular wall jpimned by a short line of wall to a longer stone dyke, looking like the remains of a long lost tall tower.

image: Gunnie Moberg D135-2-467

This aerial colour photograph shows an unusual stone feature, a sheep shelter of one wall butting into another wall perpendicularto it. The structure looks like a giant capital 'T' lying on its side. To the left of the frame a long low stone dyke cuts right diagonally across the top of the frame.

image: Gunnie Moberg D135-2-437

The T-shaped sheep shelter is shown in the context of the fields around it and a tarmac road to the left.

image: Gunnie Moberg D135-2-466

Please get in contact if you know where these structures are.

If you enjoy stone structures, there is still a chance to see Gunnie Moberg’s exhibition ‘3 Stone Lines’ at Orkney Library and Archive. The show is to be extended until Monday 9 December.

13 thoughts on “A stone kiss

    • Amy Liptrot likes a mystery! Amy ran in to Andy Alsop at the last Gunnie Moberg Open day at Stromness Library [Andy Alsop is the Loganair pilot who flew Gunnie above the islands while she made her remarkable images]. Andy pointed to a cross on the OS map of the West Mainland of Orkney and Amy headed off. She emailed the Gunnie Moberg Archive yesterday with this news:
      ‘I went to Firth and found the Stone Kiss! It’s in a lovely spot at the foot of Keelylang. I also, via facebook, found the location of the circular shelter. It’s Sanday – just west of the school. It’s visible on google maps so still in existence.’
      Amy is a writer and plans to publish the story of the stone kiss – we’ll keep you posted.

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  3. Please could you tell me who coined ‘stone kiss’ on the Gunnie Moberg article about the ‘Bucht’ sheep stall?

    This was posted a while ago on Twitter and I found myself writing a poem called The Stone Kiss in the form of its cross as it really struck me. The poem’s being published and I’ve been asked to provide a recording of it for a podcast and I wasn’t sure if it is Amy Liptrot to credit? She’s not available to directly message on Twitter. Any guidance much appreciated, Thanks, Paul.

    • Hello Peter and congratulations on being published, we would love too have a look at that. It is great that Gunnie’s work has inspired again. It was fantastic when Amy Liptrot adopted the stone kiss and rebuilt it lovingly. Her article was published in the edition ‘Antidote to Indifference’ in 2014 but the copy will be in the archives (and I’m at home), she talks about the project here and uses the ‘stone kiss’. I’m not sure of the provenance of the term ‘stone kiss, I suspect it would be Gunnie’s husband Tam MacPhail – he recalls being the photograph being taken for him by Gunnie. I would credit Gunnie Moberg. All the best with it all.

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  5. Many thanks for the kind response to my poem The Stone Kiss and including it along with a photo in such an interesting article. I’m blown away by that response. Sorry I only just replied. The comment email ended up in my spam and I only just saw it looking for something else that went amiss.

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