Orkney Clay

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Local clays are being used for the experiment. Fieldwork has taken place on sampling and analysing Orkney’s boulder clays for their potting qualities, with the aim of identifying potential sources of suitable raw material. None of the county’s clay deposits appear to be particularly good for potting, but some are better than others. From a potter’s perspective, clays found on North Ronaldsay, Stronsay, Shapinsay, Central and East Mainland, the South Isles, and parts of Westray and Eday are much better than those found in the western part of the archipelago. Generally, those from the west have far too much sand and rock rubble in them

So far, two very different clays have been used, from Stackle Brae on the south coast of Eday and from deposits around and to the south of Kirkwall. That from Kirkwall and surroundings has proved very good and easily workable. The Stackle Brae clay, a rich chocolate brown colour, was found to contain too much sand, but when mixed with grass or other organic material immediately became plastic, proving very suitable for potting. Work on identifying suitable clays, including scientific analysis of samples, is ongoing.