Friday, June 26, 2015

TORTURE ARCHITECT



One perhaps thinks of Gehry, possibly Hadid et. al., when the term ‘TORTURE ARCHITECT’ is first seen. It is as if the phrase was critically identifying the creators of those twisted and deformed outcomes that now grace our magazines and newspapers; buildings that one might think of as ‘tortured forms’ - but no. The term ‘architect’ is being used in its new sense where it can apply to anything: see - http://voussoirs.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/architect-of.html  Here the subject is torture. The individual who developed the torture techniques, James Mitchell, has, astonishingly, been labelled the ‘torture architect.’




The usage fits the pattern colloquial language has developed for the word ‘architect’ that makes it so difficult for anyone, let alone any Board of Architects, to understand just what an architect is: see -  http://voussoirs.blogspot.com.au/2012/05/who-or-what-is-architect.html  It also makes it impossible for folk to comprehend the purpose and usefulness of architects beyond being someone, somewhere specialising in, well, perhaps anything, the ad hoc: things vague and varied. The word's new context devalues an architect’s purpose by making any managing or similar act appear to be the normal work of an ‘architect.’ It is the latest dilemma for the profession that is continually being belittled and categorised as a waste of time and money – a pure, indulgent and expensive, ‘arty’ excess.



That ‘torture’ might be perceived as being a part of an architect’s repertoire is alarming. Architecture has more to do with accommodating people, their feelings and emotions as well as their needs and functions, making a good fit, rather than with torturing people. Still, some might say otherwise: that architects play so many extravagant games that they torture life and its living to suit certain singular visions and ambitions. Just how the profession can overcome this linguistic problem remains a difficulty. It needs to be addressed, as it is not only torture that gets gathered into things ‘architectural,’ but also problems and disasters.





Architects will have to decide how to carefully attend to this problem that lies as a latent disruptive force that modifies meanings and understandings. That architects still press on regardless with their pretentious games, clever words, and distressed forms, (see: http://voussoirs.blogspot.com.au/2015/06/ronchamp-rest-areas-and-meaning.html ), will only encourage this confusion and create a real blur between fact and fiction: the fact that architects can be useful, and the fiction that they are merely self-interested, egotistical dilettantes. It is in this clouded haze of perceived, uncertain identity that fact will always be overcome by popular fiction. Little wonder that most other professions have taken over the serious matters in architecture and have left the pretty, design things for architects to play with, as children left to enjoy their fanciful ‘creative’ impulses for the entertainment and amazement of ‘adults’ – the ‘grown-up’ people who are otherwise engaged in the ‘real’ world: see - http://voussoirs.blogspot.com.au/2014/02/architects-statutory-authority.html





THE ARTICLE




 CIA torture architect breaks silence to defend 'enhanced interrogation'
• James Mitchell 'highly skeptical' of Senate report on CIA torture
• 'It was not illegal based on the law at the time'
• Mitchell said to have waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
Interview: ‘I’m just the guy who got asked to do something for his country.’
Jason Leopold

The Guardian, Saturday 19 April 2014 01.12 AEST

     Mitchell insists the torture techniques he developed had produced results, and is dismissive of critics of the CIA program. Photograph:        US Department of Defense/AP

The psychologist regarded as the architect of the CIA's “enhanced interrogation” program has broken a seven-year silence to defend the use of torture techniques against al-Qaida terror suspects in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
In an uncompromising and wide-ranging interview with the Guardian, his first public remarks since he was linked to the program in 2007, James Mitchell was dismissive of a Senate intelligence committee report on CIA torture in which he features, and which is currently at the heart of an intense row between legislators and the agency.
The committee’s report found that the interrogation techniques devised by Mitchell, a retired air force psychologist, were far more brutal than disclosed at the time, and did not yield useful intelligence. These included waterboarding, stress positions, sleep deprivation for days at a time, confinement in a box and being slammed into walls.
But Mitchell, who was reported to have personally waterboarded accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, remains unrepentant. “The people on the ground did the best they could with the way they understood the law at the time,” he said. “You can't ask someone to put their life on the line and think and make a decision without the benefit of hindsight and then eviscerate them in the press 10 years later.”
The 6,600-page, $40m Senate report is still secret, but a summary of its 20 conclusions and findings, obtained by Mc Clatchy News, alluded to the role Mitchell and another psychologist under contract to the CIA, Bruce Jessen, played in the torture program.
The committee's chair, Democrat Dianne Feinstein, has said the report “exposes brutality that stands in stark contrast to our values as a nation”. She added: "It chronicles a stain on our history that must never again be allowed to happen.”
Mitchell said: “I’m skeptical about the Senate report, because I do not believe that every analyst whose jobs and promotions depended upon it, who were professional intelligence experts, all them lied to protect a program? All of them were wrong? All of these [CIA] directors were wrong? All of the people who were using the intel to go get people were wrong? And 10 years later a Senate staffer was able to put it together and finally there’s clarity? I am just highly skeptical that that’s the truth.”
While he refused to discuss specific details of the program because he is bound by a non-disclosure agreement, he defended it in general terms as a success.
“I don’t get annoyed about the program,” he said. “I get annoyed the way the good parts, and the bad parts, have been glossed over and how some good parts have been vilified.”
He insisted that the torture techniques he developed had produced results, and was derisive of critics of the program, such as former FBI special agent Ali Soufan, who says standard rapport-building techniques he used in interrogations were far more effective for obtaining information from detainees.
Mitchell said: “You’re asked to believe he [Soufan] was getting all of this great information and the CIA said: ‘Well, never mind. We’re not interested in that information. We’re not interested in the truth. We’re going to do this other thing. Why? Because we’re mean?' I worked for a lot of different organizations and they really care about results.”
He said the context in which the program was developed, in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks, was being ignored in the current debate: “The big fear was some sort of a radiological device … It's really easy, 13 years later, when there's been no device, when all those people who were trying to build them were either killed or captured … to come along later and say 'I could have done it better, this stuff was illegal.' It was not illegal based on the law at the time.”
Starting in 2002, the Department of Justice issued a series of top-secret legal opinions stating the interrogation techniques did not violate US laws against torture. But according to the summary obtained by McClatchy, the Senate report concludes that these opinions were based on misleading information provided by the CIA.
The CIA is currently facing battles on two fronts over its use of torture on terror suspects. The agency is embroiled in an unprecedented public row with Feinstein, who has accused it of violating the law by monitoring computers her committee's staff use to compile the report.

Meanwhile, allegations of abuse have taken center stage in the prosecutions of detainees at Guantánamo. The military judge overseeing the tribunals has ordered the CIA to provide a detailed account of the detention and interrogation in one of its secret prisons overseas of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is charged with orchestrating the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, which killed 17 US sailors. Lawyers for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others charged over the 9/11 attacks say they are seeking similar orders.
Mitchell, who said he was a supporter of Amnesty International, denied any involvement in the abuse of detainees at Guantánamo. In 2009, a scathing report from the Senate armed services committee report found that the coercive interrogations originated from techniques developed by the psychologists.
“We didn't have a damn thing to do with that,” Mitchell said. Instead, he said, the blame lay with Pentagon contractors and civilian staff “who wanted to help out and made some dumb mistakes”.
But Kathleen Long, a spokeswoman for the committee, said the information in its report was accurate.
Steven Kleinman, an air force colonel who participated in interrogations in Iraq and who is credited with blowing the whistle on abuses taking place there, told the Guardian he did not understand how Mitchell could still believe torture methods that generated false confessions could also produce “reliable, accurate and timely intelligence”.
“Why would anybody think that a model that would produce those outcomes would also be effective in producing the opposite?” Kleinman said.


http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/18/cia-torture-architect-enhanced-interrogation

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

TINGWALL KIRK


Tingwall is a location in the Shetland Islands, just north of Lerwick on the main road to the northern isles, over the hill from the left turn to Scalloway. Even after having driven past the settlement of Tingwall when travelling to and from Lerwick and Unst for many years, the area is still seen as a sundry aside, a scattering ooze of a non-place, nearly place-less as its identity spreads and sprawls aimlessly around an airport, dotted into sections divided by roads both major and minor.


Historically, Tingwall is known as the site of the Thing in Shetland, the Viking parliament.# It may not have been the first. There is a site above Crussafield in Unst that is said to have been the site of the first Thing on Shetland. Here, so the stories tell, after judgments had been made, those declared guilty would be given the chance to run downhill to the nearby kirk at Baliasta. Along the way, folk could stone the offender. If killed, this individual would be buried at the place of death under stones in the form of a cross - hence the name, Crussafield: field of crosses. There must have been many. If the kirk was reached, the offender would be pardoned. It has been noted by W.P. Livingstone in Shetland and the Shetlanders that the crosses could be seen on the slopes above Baliasta up until the middle of the nineteenth century. They have gone, along with all evidence of the dead. Shetland has acid soils that aggressively erode bones.


Aerial view of Baliasta. The old kirk is centre bottom; Gue top right.

The location of the Thing on Unst is guessed to be somewhere near the place identified on today’s maps as the Giants Grave. This ‘grave’ can be seen as an arrangement of stones, a square array of four large vertical slabs of serpentine. Little more is known about this place that has revealed no secrets in spite of some early excavations. The Baliasta Kirk still exists just over half a kilometer away as a ruin surrounded by its ancient graveyard, located between crofts that slope gently eastwards down to the burn running strong and fast into the Loch of Cliff just below Houlland. The loch is a large, long body of fresh water that meanders into the open sea at Burrafirth on the far north of the island.

The old kirk and graveyard at Baliasta.

The name of the area around the old kirk is interesting, being similar to the name of the Greek/Roman siege machine, the ballista; plural ballistae: (Latin, from Greek βαλλίστρα ballistra and that from βάλλω ballō, "throw"). This contraption could launch a missile at a distant target – see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballista  Here the throwing of rocks is the common fact and reference: hence the name?#  There seems to be too much of a coincidence in the spelling and activity of both machine and place for there not to be some connection. While many place names across Shetland are repeated, there is only one Baliasta – pronounced locally as ‘ba-las-tee.’ It is a similar sounding to the Roman machine ‘ba-lis-ta,’ and is almost identical to ‘ba-lis-te’ as plural. The early maps name the area as ‘Balliasta,’ a spelling that reproduces the twin ‘l’s of the Greek/Roman machine’s name. Today’s maps and signs use ‘Baliasta’ – just one ‘l’: such is modern efficiency?

The Loch of Tingwall

Tingwall became the location of the Thing that seems to have moved from Unst, perhaps as Shetland became more settled, more Lerwick-centred as it is today.  The Thing was moved from Tingwall to Scalloway in the 1570s by Earl Robert Stewart: see - http://www.thingsites.com/thing-site-profiles/tingwall-shetland  This role in the society's parliament suggests some identifiable communal centre, a certain significance of place. It is difficult to envisage this, as Tingwall holds no such quality today. Tucked behind a hill on the road north, the main settlement sits on its slope that overlooks the airport. Wind turbines on the higher hills behind dominate the area with their distracting elevation and movement. But there is more: the Tingwall precinct sprawls. The local community hall is on a track that surprisingly branches north from the main road away from the hotel and its surrounds that cluster on the south of this intersection. To the west there are crofts on the lower hills, and others that sit around the loch that is bordered by a golf course. The road from Scalloway passes this loch to link up with the road west to Weisdale and Walls, and to the main road to the northern isles.



We had decided to take this shortcut after browsing around Scalloway's lovely harbour and driving lazily through the maze of lanes on its high waterside slopes. It is a very pretty place.  We had taken this 'short-cut' route once before, many years ago. Now we had time and drove the route slowly for its picturesque qualities, not to save time. We passed the golf course and crofts as we manoeuvred along a twisting, one-lane track until we reached a T-junction where we turned east. There, on the rise directly in front of us was a church. It was a crude, austere, gabled box form, plain, ordinary and uninteresting. In fact, it could be said to be a little stolid and boring. It was a building that could easily be dismissed as nothing worthy of another look; such was its common, unimaginative, candid presence and form. It was really something to ignore, being ignorant of any obvious concern for its identity and expression. The western facade had an alien, small red door with a semicircular head and a rectangular opening higher above. The kirk was surrounded by a graveyard with a mix of new and old headstones. On the eastern end of the ridge was a simple bell hung high in a small arched void shaped in a projection of the wall that mimicked the larger gabled mass in miniature. The side, south wall of the church facing the road had four small windows, two with semi-circuilar heads. The walls had the appearance of having been harled, that terrible cliché, cover-all finish used on public housing and 1960s refurbishments throughout Britain. The building could be described as bland, carelessly crass. It looked like a rough child's drawing of what a church might be: awkwardly simplistic and naive.




But we paused nearby, then squeezed in to park close to a small gate that led into the precinct. Perhaps the graveyard might be interesting? Then the particular stepped arrangement of the windows on the south elevation was noticed. It reminded one of the church at Whalsay that was similar in plan to that at Lunna  - see http://voussoirs.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/whalsays-kirk.html and http://voussoirs.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/lunna-kirk.html  Was this church yet another like these? The building had the same crude, diagrammatic box form of Whalsay without its sculpted side annex. Was this a 'sideways' church? There was a quiver of excitement. One had to check this out. The passage through the graveyard became less of a curious meander, more of a speedy trek detouring around and between headstones in the most efficient manner. How should one approach this church? Could one see in the windows? The red door looked uninviting, terminal. The south, side path to the east was taken to explore more of this place and to peep in as one had done at Whalsay, just to check. No, one could not see in through the windows. Maybe one might never know how this pace was set out?





A small porch appeared on the eastern facade with a formal path that led to a gate opening up too a large, paved car parking area. Ah, this was the entry side. We should have driven on for a few more metres. The old ceramic knob of the porch door was turned. One expected resistance, but surprisingly the door opened. Gosh, the Whalsay Kirk had been securely locked. The day we went to Lunna we found the kirk open. Workmen were there repairing the entry ramp for a wedding. The disappointment and formidably oppressive warning signs of the 'Hunt' Irish church came to mind. Tingwall Kirk seemed to hold to the old principles of churches, as did the small chapel on Fetlar, being kept open and available to all, for all, always as a public, sacred community place for private refuge and reflection – a sanctuary for prayer. The porch was tiny, with notices pinned to the wall revealing an immediate intimacy that confirmed regular activity. Already one felt the presence of place. There were cloak hooks on the walls. A pull-cord for the bell ringing was slung over one hook and lay coiled on a table stacked with hymnbooks.  One was reminded of Corbusier’s La Tourette Monastery at Eveux in France: see - http://voussoirs.blogspot.com.au/2012/05/corbusier-renaissance-man.html




The quirky thumb latch of the second, the inner door, was opened. Inside, the access to the vestry on the left of the lobby stood ajar. The walls of this office-like space were covered with an historic array of photographic portraits displaying the image of every minister the congregation has had over the years. There were many. Everyone was there; but no one was there - yet everything was left open. A stair twisted into silent darkness on the right. The knob of the door leading out of this lobby space deeper into the kirk was turned to open the door that revealed the main space for worship, complete with pulpit, communion table and seating for the congregation, all illuminated with a bright haze of southern light. Yes, it was the 'sideways' plan, identical to that of Whalsay and Lunna, both in form, detail and painted finishes. It was a beautiful space.







The western lobby and door

The central pulpit on the southern side wall was surrounded by a U-shaped arrangement of pews tucked under the U-shaped mezzanine that held a similar arrangement of pews above. The void had an ‘arena’ quality, with a sense of gathering that was serene, full, even when empty. Moving quietly across this space, one entered a door that revealed a small kitchen: a functional necessity. Next to this access was another door that opened up to a dim lobby space and to the inner face of the western red door. We had reached the limits of this tiny kirk, its far side. Dark stairs skewed up to the mezzanine, rising invitingly on the right, to the light. The mezzanine space opened up a new perception of place, high up but low with skylights overhead, bright in a different light, with seating enclosing the pulpit void deep below. This preaching podium was the core, the anchor, of this space, located as it was ‘in between,’ higher than the entry level but lower than the mezzanine, addressing both levels with a demanding, commanding authority. Its grand little stair reminded one of the mosque's minbar: see - http://voussoirs.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/abu-dhabi-hotel-mosque-heritage-centre.html  One felt an aura of sameness in religions with this similarity.



The northwest stair

Looking down to the western lobby





The northeast stair

The northwest stair

The top of the other turning stair to the mezzanine in the mirrored corner location on the east was soon discovered. This was the stair seen in the first lobby space. There was a matching pair of stairs, one in each corner of the northern wall, that connected the mezzanine to the spaces below. The arrangement was all very personal, intimate, light and bright; clearly very carefully and shrewdly planned, displaying the very qualities of modest frugality that would have been preached from the pulpit. There was no exhibitionism, no self-important display, no waste here. Everything was all carefully efficiently functional, accommodating and respectful, fitting like a hand in a glove; a glove on a hand: modest but firm and comfortable. It was a surprise: the difference between inside and outside was stark. The kirk held the true Shetland characteristic that can be seen in the cottages of the crofters that tell nothing of their private dwelling spaces externally. These ordinary little rustic buildings are rough outside, but beautiful inside - like diamonds. Shetlanders do not like grand, pompous displays. Perhaps the terrible treatment by various earls, lords and lairds over the years has engendered a dislike for any grandiose self-important promotion. Understatement reigns. Maybe the hardships of the past have taught them how to make the best of everything, no matter how insignificant; to use everything appropriately, creatively, without wasteful exuberance.



This little church is much more than the bland, naive exterior suggests. It is a real gem, beautifully and economically planned. Like Whalsay, its southern windows step to let in the sunlight where it is needed, but here only two windows light the central space. One of the other lower rectangular openings provides light for the vestry in the southeast corner of the kirk; the other illuminates the kitchen in the southwest corner. The two higher windows have semi-circular heads with glazing divisions that form twin pointed arches. These openings are located either side of the pulpit, highlighting its centrality with their modest ‘Gothic’ declaration. These are the only windows to be so formed, the only openings to be so decorated. The other two lower windows of the vestry and kitchen on either side of this pulpit arrangement, like most other windows in the kirk, are rectangular. The eastern window of the entry porch has a pointed arch form. Unlike Whalsay, the windows are glazed with a textured, patterned glass and have decorated, cut ruby glass segments. The northern window in the porch opposite the entry door, and the arch opening over the red door on the west have clear glass panes.





The east elevation

In the two central pulpit openings, the decoration is a ruby glass border surround with pretty floral cutting. For all of the other windows, this ornamentation is limited to a textured pink glass frame with square, ruby glass corner panels cut with a star in each piece, reminding one of the typical Victorian decoration of the entrance door surround of a residential hallway. The majority of the windows provide a glowing surface source of light rather than frame views to the distant hills and sky. Only the entry porch offers glimpses out to the landscape that has just been left behind. Whalsay's clear glass windows enliven the interior in the same manner as those in Wrens St. James’s Church in Picadilly do. It was while attending a lunchtime recital in this London church that the man in front of us with his sandwiches spread quaintly on a napkin over his knee, and with a flask of tea propped beside him, turned to chat. After asking about our home, "Do you live in London?", he explained that he was a Londoner and came to the church frequently, adding that he loved its light that flooded in through the large, high clear-glass windows. "You are connected to the outside. You are a part of everyday London, be it sunny, rainy, misty or just dull. The light is always different." Indeed one was, and it is: but not at Tingwall.


At Tingwall, the windows shut one in, they enclosed. This made the interior more essentially secret, inward looking. The openings enfolded one with what could be seen as a basic, crude attempt at the cliché church stained glass that was devoid of the luscious richness of the storyboards in cathedrals. This was a Scottish church - a kirk. Grand decorative displays have no part here. Yet the openings did glow nicely, offering varying qualities of light with an occasional touch of sparkle created by the facets of the cast pattern texturing that was enriched by the soft pink edging and gleaming ruby bands and border squares.



The brightest light came from the windows either side of the pulpit. These were the largest and the most decorated, and allowed south light to stream deep into the central double-height void in and around which folk sat, almost as a metaphor - "I am the light of the world." This interior was a snug space with a very pretty scale, charming, dolls house-like, that offered a friendly welcome and a warm embrace as if at home. The building was an example of how wonder can come from simplicity, from things ordinary, effortlessly, without any self-conscious distortion, bloated boasting or smart cleverness. Architects could/should learn from this. It shows how beauty does not have to be forced; how spirit can be embodied in place, in things commonplace and everyday with a humble nonchalance and a quiet resonance.




The north elevation


The west elevation
Even the staining of the end wall echoes the shape of the tombstones.

It was easy to tarry in this little building, but there were other things to get done. The doors were silently closed on exit. The kirk gently stimulated such care and respect. The route back to the car completed the circuit around the church, passing along the northern wall that had only two rectangular windows, back to the western red door, and led on to a zigzagging through the older areas of the churchyard arrayed with weathered and worn tombstones that were ageing with a solemn dignity as they recorded names, dates, wishes, hopes and emotions of other times. A glimpse back up to the church revealed the match between the traditional semicircular-topped tombstone and the form of the red door. There is always more for the eye to discover in the ordinary that can be surprising, subtle and rich without any entertaining distractions, clever ‘look-at-me’ declarations, alarming screams of difference, or any shrewd games that might manipulate similar simple appearances with stories - 'narratives' is the word used - to highlight a personal brilliance, special insight, MY genius. The search for wonder in the everyday requires humility, love and care. The Tingwall Kirk shows what such an approach can achieve. Its open doors fulfill this intent that rings with a welcome trust rarely seen in our era.


The Tingwall Kirk showing graveyard, eastern porch and manse

The Tingwall Manse


Looking back like Lot's wife further along the road, the kirk could be seen in its full context with the manse opposite, the loch to the south and crofts to the west and north. The bell-crowned vista with its tiny, silhouetted void quietly echoed its full potential as it anticipated the pull of the porch rope that would be the only public declaration of its being there – the announcement of a beautiful sacred place, secreted in the wonderful landscape of Tingwall.




POSTSCRIPT





The Voe Kirk

As we drove on to Voe through a surprisingly snow-covered, April landscape, we passed another similar-looking kirk on the northern slopes overlooking the water as we headed north to Brae. Could we be so lucky as to have yet another 'sideways' church? We detoured down a dead end lane. The church was remarkably similar in form to that at Tingwall. The main door was locked; the side door was locked. The windows were gazed in clear glass and displayed no unusual arrangement or decoration. Standing on the side porch stair, one could peep in. No, it was the standard axial layout of the basilica seen in all classic cathedrals, churches and kirks throughout Christendom. Where did the 'sideways' model come from? Why was it used for only certain churches? Who initiated this layout?



Back in Unst a little later, standing looking at St. John's Kirk at Baltasound, the eye wandered, seeking out clues. Could this building have once been a 'sideways' kirk? History had it that this church was originally a two-storied structure that could accommodate 2000 people. The figure is unbelievable, but old photos do show a much larger building, albeit only in the distance, in the hazy black and white photographs of the vista looking west from the end of the waters of Baltasound. The present kirk reveals no evidence that the church had been a 'sideways' kirk. Its set out is the typical cathedral model. The archives will have to be checked to see if there are any better photographs of this building before it was downsized. Why would it not have been a 'sideways' kirk if it had been two stories high? This plan seems to be the most compact for such numbers. It must have been a grand place. The original manse is still on Unst. It is a significant building, with a traditional bookend form and a rear two-storied annex making a 'T' plan, complete with slated out buildings. It is similar in scale to the nearby doctor's residence. Ministers, doctors and lairds were those who held power and respect in older times – religion, health and law. The old school records comprised weekly reports by the teacher that were regularly signed off in dramatic flowing script by both the minister and the Laird who supervised the schooling programme.



# P.P.S.
The parallel in the names and their references is hard to ignore, but the pamphlet Shetland Place Names published by the Shetland Museum and Archives tells us that Tingwall is Old Norse for: 'field of the parliament' -  pingvöllr and that place names ending in -sta help locate early settlement, .e.g. Girlsta: Geirhildr's farm.  Mmmm . . ., is Balliasta, Ballia's farm, or has it a Roman reference? Is it too far fetched to assume a link to ballista/ballistae? Why should it be when the Vikings were known to have reached Constantinople? Who might Ballia be? Was this his farm located next to the Thing?  Why the old kirk in which records tell an exorcism was carried out in the 1600s? What and where was this farm, this -sta? There are many questions that need pondering, research. The important thing is to keep an open mind on matters until they become clear.



9 MARCH 2017
NOTE:
AD 1150 ( approx) St. Magnus Church Tingwall built 1150







(Top photo by Carol Anderson 20:10:2016)
(Middle photo, inside of the crypt mound seen to the left of the Church in Carols photo, thought to contain the remnant of the wall of the original Church, and also contains some very ancient memorial slabs).

[St. Magnus Church in Tingwall was built around 1150, the first of three towered churches in Shetland, the others being built at Papil, Burra and Ireland Bigton. (Details:- Shetland by JR Nicolson. Page 43.)
St Magnus was one of three churches gifted by three Norse sisters to Shetland. All had round towers, and St Magnus Church was said to be the grandest of them. From 1215 St Magnus was the base of the Archdeacon of Tingwall, the senior church official in Shetland.
St Magnus was sadly demolished in 1788, at around the same time as the other two churches gifted by the three Norse sisters. As one Shetland commentator put it: "...as a principle of barbarous economy to supply stones at a cheap rate for the plain Presbyterian churches which now occupy their places". And you have to admit that, although the interior of the replacement kirk is very attractive, Tingwall would be better known and more visited if the original St Magnus Church had been allowed to stand ] (12)
Tingwall Church took on the importance of being the Head Church in Shetland from around AD 1215 ( see below ).
(12) Undiscovered Scotland. (2000). Tingwall Kirk. Available: Undiscovered Scotland. Last accessed 18/08/2015.
https://www.preceden.com/timelines/150324-the-history-and-the-here-and-now-of-shetland-s-christian-family

Tingwall 1790
C.O.S.
Location: Tingwall
Built: 1790
Notes: Sir Walter Scott visited this Church in July 1814, a plaque commemorating the visit is inside the Church.
The following link gives access to the story of the Turnbull Tragedies of 1836
shetlandtimes.co.uk/2009/11/08/history-the-turnbull-tragedies last accessed 19/09/2015
This story can also be read in ' The Story of the Tingwall Kirk' by G.M. Nelson 1965



Service times: Sun 12noon (winter months)
Sun 9:15 (summer months), alternate Sundays with Weisdale(10am)
Communion: Quarterly.
Mission support: Colin Johnson (mission partner) in Israel (TIBERIUS).
World Mission Committee (very active).
Minister: New minister ordained and inducted to the pastorate of the parish on 9th Oct. 2014 Rev. Deborah Dobby.

Contact: Brenda Scollay Tel: 01595840339
Thelma Robertson Tel: 01595840383
Laureen Slater Tel: 01595840338

https://www.preceden.com/timelines/150324-the-history-and-the-here-and-now-of-shetland-s-christian-family