Friday, March 16, 2007


Scapa Flow relics set to go under the hammer


This Is North Scotland
By Andrew Hamilton
March 16, 2007

Relics from a fleet of Imperial German ships which have rested at Scapa Flow in Orkney for almost a century will go under the hammer today.

The ships, which originally numbered 74 but now stand at seven, arrived at Scapa Flow in November 1918 for internment after the armistice which ended World War I.

As surrender terms were being negotiated in June 1919, the German rear admiral in command at Scapa Flow gave the order for the German fleet to be scuttled to prevent it falling into Allied hands.

The seven battleships which remain have been declared monuments of national importance and have attracted great interest from tourists - particularly the thousands of scuba divers who flock to Scapa Flow each year.

Another who was drawn to the ships was lifelong collector of artefacts Norris Wood, who salvaged some items from the wrecks and stored them in his 17th-century home.

Mr Wood, who died in 1978, spent more than 50 years building up a vast collection of curiosities, and in 1961 bought Graemeshall House, on Orkney, specifically to house his wide-ranging display.

His relatives have decided the museum could not continue operating and are selling off the contents, which auctioneers Bonhams estimate could fetch between £70,000 and £100,000 in today's Edinburgh sale. A ship's telegraph, a clock, a chamber pot and parts of a porcelain dinner service from Kaiser Wilhelm II's fleet are among items to go under the hammer.

But those interested in the wider history of the islands may be more attracted to the Orkney chairs, early 16th-century Nuremberg "egg" or late 19th-century inkstand which are also on offer.


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