Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 61 total)
  • setting light to puffins
  • zarquon
    Free Member

    I'm trying to find out some information about whether the residents of St Kilda set light to puffins for light (i.e as candles), but can't seem to find anything definitive. The St Kilda website only states that puffins were used as "snacks" and were rendered as cancles, but not that they used the carcasses themselves for light. Your help appreciated

    IanMunro
    Free Member

    No idea, but the image of flaming puffins lighting up the night sky has made my morning :)

    simonfbarnes
    Free Member

    cancles

    ??

    I hope they were killed first ?

    simonfbarnes
    Free Member

    yeah, using endangered species as fuel is SO funny…

    coffeeking
    Free Member

    They'll have used the fat from them, tallow candles.

    IanMunro
    Free Member

    yeah, using endangered species as fuel is SO funny…

    And your prissy response has made me smile even more :)

    Moses
    Full Member

    They weren't endangered, then…

    I thought it was the oil from fulmars that they used to use for lights. but I am prob wrong.

    mastiles_fanylion
    Free Member

    yeah, using endangered species as fuel is SO funny…

    Come on – these are people living an isolated life and living to long-held historical standards.

    How could anyone think to moan about it?

    Is it in Iceland* where they catch them in nets as they fly around so they can eat them?

    *No, not the frozen food store.

    barnsleymitch
    Free Member

    Not big or clever, but it would be a good name for a band.

    simonfbarnes
    Free Member

    They weren't endangered, then…

    so being killed and burnt is safe ??

    zarquon
    Free Member

    they left in the 1920s so I don't think that they were endagered. Apparently Islanders ate over 100 fulmars per year

    uplink
    Free Member

    so being killed and burnt is safe

    I think as long as you stayed at arms length you'd be OK

    ernie_lynch
    Free Member

    How could anyone think to moan about it?

    But more interestingly, how could an adult find it 'amusing and funny' ?

    Gee-Jay
    Free Member

    I ate puffin in Iceland, cant say I have eaten a candle though so difficult to tell you if they taste equally flameproof …

    Kind of an odd taste, I will not bother again

    Gee-Jay
    Free Member

    Sorry, I meant flamable

    zarquon
    Free Member

    interesting though to hear how people had to live. It is possible to find the image of a flaming puffin amusing without wanting to continue the process.

    mastiles_fanylion
    Free Member

    You could train them to flap their wings to blow out the flames at the end of the night – a sort of simple remote controlled lighting system.

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    The fat was rendered down and used for candles, the carcasses were used for stock (cooking).
    My Grandfather had relatives/ancestors on St.Kilda in the early 1900's and he was stationed in the North Atlantic during the war so retained a keen interest in the place.

    barnsleymitch
    Free Member

    Was it the ancient Romans that used to set fire to pigs in order to frighten elephants used in battle? sure I saw it on QI, but then again, it could have all been a lovely dream.

    STATO
    Free Member

    They weren't endangered

    They arnt even endangered now. What would you suggest they do for light otherwise, drill for oil? that'd really help the puffins wouldnt it!

    simonfbarnes
    Free Member

    They arnt even endangered now

    I'm glad to hear it. Perhaps the real endangered species were the St. Kildans, driven to extinction by puffin fumes ?

    scaredypants
    Full Member

    I thought it was the oil from fulmars that they used to use for lights

    is this a joke about petrel ??

    mrmichaelwright
    Free Member

    i suspect it'd be a rather smelly solution.

    you ever smelt a burning feather!

    zarquon
    Free Member

    thank you CL – truly amazing the information you can get from STW :-)

    I now owe people beer though (lost the bet on the flaming puffins)

    mastiles_fanylion
    Free Member

    you ever smelt a burning feather!

    Don't be silly – you would pluck them first, then fashion insulating clothing out of the feathers – so light and warmth all from a little bird.

    StirlingCrispin
    Full Member

    The book Life and Death of St Kilda by Tom Steel might tell you more.
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Life-Death-St-Kilda/dp/0006373402

    I read it years ago and can't remember much about it – other than it was an interesting read and gave me an urge to visit the Morvern peninsula.

    zarquon
    Free Member

    SC – excellent. I'll definitely read, I find it interesting how soft we are now, not that I would recommend that lifestyle as a return to some sort of rural idyll

    miketually
    Free Member

    The Roman Emporor Nero used to tie Christians to stakes then coat them in tar and use them as candles to light his garden at parties. He didn't kill them first.

    Learnt that on Horrible Histories this morning :)

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    There was a programme on it recently, had Kate Humble, Dan Snow and someone else, they were camping on Kilda and gave a sort of history of the place, bit of diving in the coastal waters, tried out a few of the techniques of catching birds on the cliffs etc.

    Very interesting and this thread has reminded me of how little I know about it. Can't ask my Grandfather now. :-(
    (although to be fair in the last few years he barely knew where he was never mind where any distant family had been…)

    is this a joke about petrel ??

    Very good. :-)

    montylikesbeer
    Full Member

    This thread needs pictures.

    Question is how hard do you have to squeeze then to get the juice out

    mastiles_fanylion
    Free Member

    jojoA1
    Free Member

    Great thread, lots of chuckles :)

    The book mentioned above is excellent, I've bought it several times and keep giving it to people to read. It's fascinating how these people used to live even in our quite recent past and how they were forced into extinction by people who thought they knew better than they did. Obviously some superstitious practices they had were harmful (anointing newborn babies with an oil that effectively killed most of them being one)but sad that their entire way of life was destroyed.

    I'd love to visit and see the place for myself.

    mastiles_fanylion
    Free Member

    they were forced into extinction

    The people or the puffins? ;-)

    CountZero
    Full Member

    This thread is really making my day. Mastiles' little pic is very cute, and it's a good thing I didn't have a mouthful of tea when I read scardypants crack about petrel, I'd have choked on it, or spat it across the room. And the thought of Puffins tearing across the sky with their tails on fire, like little rockets…

    TandemJeremy
    Free Member

    I have a wonderful image now of the puffin candle. :-) They got up to some odd things on that island but setting fire to the local wildlife?

    Its fascinating story

    gusamc
    Free Member

    I thought that they 'volunteered' to be relocated, due to harsh conditions and short nunbers of people fit enough to gather food.

    Big up to religion, really long sermons during prime food gathering time, cracking plan. (*My dad actually saw a church revolt – lates 50s North tip Scotland, cracking Sunday, after 3 hours this young bloke got up and apologised and said this is the first fishing day for 4 days and my family haven't eaten for 3 – I'm getting them food – half the church left)

    They didn't do well on relocation either, having no immunity to common mainland diseases wasn't that helpful.

    Mind you the marriage test might help – stand on a slab – toes over the edge, with a vertical drop to the sea and touch your toes……

    TimP
    Free Member

    Smoked puffin is REALLY nice! Had it in Iceland too. They are funny creatures though. We went out on a boat and went past Puffin Island. They were all swimming out and about eating fish. When the boat came along they got scared and swam away, trying to take off, but due to the poor design of their wings (better suited to swimming underwater) they could not get out of the water to fly off, so would eventually duck under the water. They all swam away in the same direction as the boat was travelling too which made me think they are stupid, badly designed and funny looking, but they do taste nice smoked.

    CaptJon
    Free Member

    I've always found you get a better flame from a burning seal.

    jojoA1
    Free Member

    There were some who left willingly, but there was also pressure to 'improve' their living standards, whether they liked it or not.

    zarquon
    Free Member

    quite bad at getting airborne apparently: full of fat and with very little wings, so they have to run like crazy to get aloft. Do not get in their way as they find it difficult to change direction once they get going and you don't want to be run over by a speeding puffin.

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