Please Sign In | Register
Google pluspinterestShare on Stumble UponShare on RedditFacebookShare on Tumblr
TITLE
Mammals in the Works of Martin Martin
EXTERNAL ID
GB1796_SINCLAIR_ANDREWCURRIE_02
PERIOD
1980s; 1990s
CREATOR
Andrew Currie
SOURCE
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
ASSET ID
1807
KEYWORDS
botany
zoology
travelogues
gazetteers
Western Isles
audio

Get Adobe Flash player

Martin Martin's 'A Description of the Western Islands of Scotland' (1703) and 'A Voyage to St Kilda' (1698) are amongst the first printed works describing the life, culture and beliefs of the people of the Hebrides. In this audio extract from 1996, Skye naturalist - Andrew Currie - identifies many of the mammal species mentioned in Martin's works.

Mammals produced surprises for me. Today there are no foxes recorded on Mull yet Martin says, 'Foxes abound on this isle, and do much hurt among lambs and kids'. A search confirmed that there were indeed foxes amongst the mountains of Torosay in Mull, but that by 1892 there were none. They had been common but were killed out. We regard the pine marten as being absent from Skye and the Outer Hebrides but Martin says, using an Old Scots name, 'The mertrick is pretty numerous in this isle'. He was referring to Harris and after another search, I found that there were indeed pine martens in Harris and Lewis. By 1886 they were extinct, slaughtered as vermin.

Martin unfortunately lumps seals, whales and rats so that it is impossible to identify the species, except possibly from the habitat or by instinct. This I have tentatively done on a few cases. Probably all of the seals which inhabit the tiny west coast islets and rocks are grey seals while the numerous seals in Loch Eport [Euphort] are almost certainly common seals. Mary Bone's writing in 1990 has assembled details of the hunting of seals reported by Martin and others. Seals, along with otters, were regarded as amphibians, even as fish, such were the problems of taxonomy in Martin's time. As to whales, the only one which I can identify is the sperm whale based on the following report, 'Some small quantity of ambergris hath been found on this coast of the island Bernera'. Rats are likewise a problem to me but Professor Sam Berry, writing in 1979, takes them to be black rats. Martin tells of rats on North Rona, Harris and Jura. Other mammals which are widespread are otters and red deer. In all, we have the details of twelve mammals from some twenty-three islands

For guidance on the use of images and other content, please see the Terms and Conditions page.
High Life Highland is a company limited by guarantee registered in Scotland No. SC407011 and is a registered Scottish charity No. SC042593
Powered by Capture

Mammals in the Works of Martin Martin

1980s; 1990s

botany; zoology; travelogues; gazetteers; Western Isles; audio

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

Bill Sinclair Audio: Martin Martin

Martin Martin's 'A Description of the Western Islands of Scotland' (1703) and 'A Voyage to St Kilda' (1698) are amongst the first printed works describing the life, culture and beliefs of the people of the Hebrides. In this audio extract from 1996, Skye naturalist - Andrew Currie - identifies many of the mammal species mentioned in Martin's works.<br /> <br /> Mammals produced surprises for me. Today there are no foxes recorded on Mull yet Martin says, 'Foxes abound on this isle, and do much hurt among lambs and kids'. A search confirmed that there were indeed foxes amongst the mountains of Torosay in Mull, but that by 1892 there were none. They had been common but were killed out. We regard the pine marten as being absent from Skye and the Outer Hebrides but Martin says, using an Old Scots name, 'The mertrick is pretty numerous in this isle'. He was referring to Harris and after another search, I found that there were indeed pine martens in Harris and Lewis. By 1886 they were extinct, slaughtered as vermin. <br /> <br /> Martin unfortunately lumps seals, whales and rats so that it is impossible to identify the species, except possibly from the habitat or by instinct. This I have tentatively done on a few cases. Probably all of the seals which inhabit the tiny west coast islets and rocks are grey seals while the numerous seals in Loch Eport [Euphort] are almost certainly common seals. Mary Bone's writing in 1990 has assembled details of the hunting of seals reported by Martin and others. Seals, along with otters, were regarded as amphibians, even as fish, such were the problems of taxonomy in Martin's time. As to whales, the only one which I can identify is the sperm whale based on the following report, 'Some small quantity of ambergris hath been found on this coast of the island Bernera'. Rats are likewise a problem to me but Professor Sam Berry, writing in 1979, takes them to be black rats. Martin tells of rats on North Rona, Harris and Jura. Other mammals which are widespread are otters and red deer. In all, we have the details of twelve mammals from some twenty-three islands