Spring farm fields near village of Scmicz - Schmitsch, Opole Voivodship, Poland

Hindera Family Origins in Schmitsch, Silesia – Smicz, Poland

Genealogy research into the Hindera, Lempka, Brinsa, Walczyk, Globisch, Pela, and Masur families originally from Smicz, Poland – Schmitsch, Silesia, Germany and settling in southeast Nebraska in the 1880’s – 1890’s.

This article is an update into my research, mainly of the Hindera surname.  A few years ago, I wrote a BLOG POST about my visit and viewing of the catholic church records in Smicz/Schmitsch, Poland.  What originally began as a confirmation of the birth of my GG grandfather – Albert Hindera, has now turned into a list of hundreds of names recording the historic residents of Smicz/Schmitch.


Spring farm fields near village of Scmicz - Schmitsch, Opole Voivodship, Poland

Photo: Green Silesian fields of Spring, near Smicz, Opole Voivodship, Poland


In 2011, during a drip to Poland, I made my first visit to the small town of Smicz/Schmitsch, located in the southern part of Opole Voivodship, about 10 miles north of the Czech Republic border.  Historically, the Opole (German Oppeln) was located on the eastern most edge of the historic region of Silesia (German Schlesien – Oberschlesien, Polish Śląsk, Silesian Ślůnsk) and formed a part of several of the major European empires as power waxed and waned over the centuries.  In 1742, Prussia was the last to obtain control of the region, which eventually became absorbed into the formation of the German empire in 1871.  German control remained in various forms until the end of WW2 in 1945, when most of Silesia was given to Poland.

My first visit to the Church in 2010 was brief, but I was able to confirm that I was on the correct path.  I have attempted several other visits to access the records in the last couple years, but the priest has always been hesitant to give further access.  Not willing to run into roadblocks, and after a bit of research, I visited the state historic archives in Opole, Poland in May 2013.  Fortunately, the archives have microfilm copies of all the regional church records, including Smicz/Schmitsch.  I was also allowed to photograph the records to take home and review later, as there was too much information to simply write down.  After several hours in the archives, I had discovered dozens of new names and began to form something beginning to look like a family tree.

Luckily, You do not need to go to Poland to access the records.  Thanks to a comment on my last blog post, it came to my attention that the records can be accessed via the Mormon church, more specifically, via their genealogy website: familysearch.org

Smicz – Schmitsch Microfilm at Familysearch.org

You can see which microfilms are available to order:

Smicz microfilm Part 1 (this is the main and most relevant archive)

Smicz microfilm Part 2

Taufen – Baptism/birth records
Heiraten – Marriage records
Tote – Death records

My Research

The legibility of the records varies greatly, from simple and easy to read to impossible.  Much of this depends on the handwriting used at the time, the early 1900’s are some of the hardest records to read due to writing style, while at other times the pages are old and the ink so blurred/faded, that barely a word can be discerned.

The style of recording the Birth/Baptism information changed over the years.  The older records, before about 1850, contain long paragraphs wherein the parents’ names are somewhere written, not always clear of Legible.  After about 1850, the records are kept in a much more legible, clear fashion.  There are also multiple switches between the use of birth or baptism as the key recording element: sometimes names are listed by actual birth date while other times baptism date is recorded and the birth date is contained somewhere within the text.

I have found spelling to be more consistent than expected, though there are some deviations from time to time and perhaps an ’s’ become a ‘z’ or a ‘Johanna’ becomes an ‘Anna.’   It is also important to remember that administratively, the regions was German, while the population itself would have been a mixture of German and Polish.  Many names are Germanized versions of Polish names, which seem to have more flexible spellings than the fully German names.

There is also an interesting period from about 1750 – 1780 where a feminine form of the surname was given to women (Male Hindera – Female Hinderin, Male Walczyk – Female Walczykin, Male Masur – Female Masurin, etc).  This also corresponded with a ‘Latinization’ of many of the given names: Jacobi (Jacob), Bernardus (Bernard), Georginus (George).  This was only a short period before names returned to their normal style.  I do not know why this change occurred, but it was shortly after Prussia gained control of the region, so perhaps there was some brief change in naming conventions?  It is also during this period that Hindera (and a few others) received a temporary spelling change: Hindera to Hÿndera.  I have tried to find the origins of the ‘ÿ’ character without success.

I have found it useful to compare both birth/baptism and marriage records at the same time, as they both contain important elements to put the overall puzzle together.  The accuracy problem arises in the fact that nearly everyone is named the same back then; thus you have fathers, sons, cousins, mothers, daughters etc., all having the same names over multiple generations and often several identically named persons per generation.  So I discovered early on that I had made a few mistakes just going by name and approximate age.  For example, there are 3 ‘Marianna Brinsa’ born within about 10 years of each other, and all would be about the correct child bearing age for who I was looking for.  Initially I found one that I assumed to be correct based on her birth.  But upon comparing the marriage record which contained the birth date, and knowing this would be the correct Marianna Brinsa – married to Franz Brinsa, the birth record I had previously found was off by 4 years, and thus the wrong Marianna.

I have ordered and reviewed many of the records, but not all yet, and compiled a rather large list of names and geanologies, taking the Hindera line back to the mid 1700’s.  The first document I have made is a huge archive of hundreds of names, and quite confusing at first.  I have more or less recorded any seemingly relevant name I have seen.  While many of the lines may be unconnected or irrelevant, as many of the people had the same names, it is necessary to know who to exclude at times.  The second document is strictly the Hindera (and any directly related) family.  There are still a few holes, but I have traced the various family lines as some moved to Nebraska and others stayed in Smicz.  I have Hindera descendants born in Smicz up to the early 1930’s.

Any internet searches show that Hindera is a relatively rare surname.  Checking a modern surname map for Poland, it occurs nearly exclusively in the Smicz/Schmitsch area, which would likely indicate that the name probably originates there at some point in history.  In comparison, the name is somewhat more widespread in Germany, but this would likely be the result of the aftermath of the German expulsion from Poland at the end of WW2, as some of Hinderas would have likely moved to Germany during this time.


Photo: Distribution of Hindera surname in Poland

Surname map for Poland – CLICK HERE 
Surname map for Germany – CLICK HERE 


View over spring farm fields towards village of Scmicz - Schmitsch, Opole Voivodship, Poland

Photo: Church tower of Smicz – Schmitsch rises in distance over fields, Opole Voivodship, Poland.

As I write this, I will be shortly returning to Smicz again in the middle of May (2014).  Along with another visit to Smicz, I am going planning on some exploration of other nearby villages to see if I happen upon any further information.  For example, the origins of the Lempka family appear to be in nearby Grabina/Grabine, but unlike the Hinderas, who still have descendants in Smicz, the Lempka family seems to have disappeared from the area completely after the families moved to Nebraska.  I would like to discover why.

If you would like to have a copy of my research, as well as some photos from Smicz, feel free to CONTACT ME and I will send you a copy.

Here is a brief listing of the direct family of Albert Hindera:

Paul Hindera – b. 30 June, 1799, Schmitsch (marriage record)
+ m. 28 Nov, 1828, Schmitsch – Age: 29, 24
Johanna Walczyk – b. 26 Dec. 1804, Schmistch

——Maria Hindera – b. 28 June, 1830, Schmitsch

——Franz Hindera – b. 11 Aug, 1832, Schmitsch
——+ m. 29 Sept, 1857, Schmitsch – Age 24, 23
——Marianna Brinsa – b. 1833/1834

——Rosalia Hindera – b. 4 Sept, 1840, Schmitsch
——+ m. 14 Jan, 1860, Schmitsch
——Anton Masur

——Thomas Hindera – b. 19 Dec, 1842, Schmitsch

——Catharina Hindera – b. 25 Nov, 1845, Schmitsch (marriage record)
——+ m. 26 Feb, 1867, Schmitsch – Age 23, 22
——Wilhelm Goreczka – b. 1843/1844, Ellgath (sp?) (marriage record)


Franz Hindera – b. 11 Aug, 1832, Schmitsch
+ m. 29 Sept, 1857, Schmitsch – Age 24, 23
Marianna Brinsa – b. 1833/1834

——Rosalia Hindera – b. 24 Aug, 1858, Schmitsch

——Marianna Hindera – b. 4 Aug, 1860, Schmitsch

——Albert Hindera – b. 5 June, 1862, Schmitsch
——+ m. 6 Oct, 1885, Nebraska
——Johanna (Anna) Lempka – b. 2 Jan, 1867, Schmitsch

——+ m. 30 Apr, 1894, Nebraska (Albert’s 2nd marriage)
——Mary Hintz

——Franz Hindera – b. 2 Aug, 1864, Schmitsch

——Felix HIndera – 2 Jan, 1867, Schmitsch

——Constantin Pius Hindera – b.10 Apr, 1869, Schmitsch

——Felicina Hindera – b. 7 June, 1871, Schmitsch
——Frank Weber

——Martha Hindera – b. 19 Feb, 1874, Schmitsch
——Florian Masur

——Johann Hindera – b. 31 May, 1876, Schmitsch
(Johann and John probably same person)
——John Hindera – b. May, 1877, Schmitsch (1900 Nebraska Census)
——Anna Hupka – b. 1890, Nebraska

——Franciszka Hindera – b. 30 Jan, 1882, Schmitsch
(Franciszka and Frances probably same person)
——Frances Hindera
——Joseph Lempka

Town hall and city center, Opole, Poland

Photo: Historic town hall of Opole, Poland.

Old buildings in rural village Scmicz - Schmitsch, Opole Voivodship, Poland

Photo: Smicz/Schmitsch, Opole Voivodship, Poland

Stormy seas crash against dramatic coastal cliffs at Yesnaby, Orkney, Scotland

Orkney – Islands of the Forever Wind

Stormy seas crash against dramatic coastal cliffs at Yesnaby, Orkney, Scotland

Photo: Sunset at Yesnaby, Orkney, Scotland.  October 2013

Leaving Dublin and arriving in the UK, Manchester to be exact, there was only one direction to go, north.  Originally, there had not really been much of a plan, only two general ideas: west coast and the Isle of Skye, or northeast and Orkney.  As the weather forecast for the following week was on the stormier side, I set my sights on Orkney.

Since my first visit to Orkney in the autumn of 2003, the islands have held a special place in my heart.  Returning to the islands in October 2013, it was now just over 10 years since my first visit.  Where does the time go?  My memory of those days gone by still remains vivid in my mind.  And one place more than any other: Rackwick Bay and the rustic Burnmouth bothy, perilously close to the wild sea.  Lonely and Isolated, Rackwick Bay is everything I love about forgotten places on the edge of the world.  Even in Europe loneliness and solitude still exist, the hustle and bustle of cities seemingly a lifetime away.  Most visitors to Scotland will say they have experienced the country after a few days in Edinburgh.  But they haven’t…

In my previous visits to Orkney I have always traveled via the Scrabster – Stromness ferry.  This time however, schedules worked out a little better to take the Pentland ferry between Gills Bay and St. Margaret’s Hope, which proved both a shorter journey and easier on the wallet.  While the route doesn’t pass the majestic cliffs of Hoy, it does pass the haunting island of Stoma, abandoned since 1962, it’s grassy landscape is littered with the remains of abandoned houses from days now gone.  I really want to find a way out there sometime.

The weather was less than ideal upon our arrival and soon a light, misty rain was falling from the sky.  I know Orkney fairly well, but I’m not as familiar with good car-bivy spots as I am with other parts of Scotland.  The only place I knew off the top of my head that would probably be okay to sleep for the night was Yesnaby.  I have been wanting to photograph the dramatic cliffs out there for some time anyhow, so it worked out well.  After a brief pit stop at the Ring of Brodgar, we pulled the car up to Yesnaby in the gray, fading light of October.  I made some brief attempts at photography, but conditions were conspiring against me.  Not even a proper rain, but that light, swirling mist which seems to get your camera lens even wetter.

Interior of St. Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney, Scotland

Photo: St. Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney, Scotland.  October 2013

Morning came slowly as the black of night softened to a dull gray of day.  Mist still fell from the sky.  With little possibilities for photography I decided to spoil myself a bit and enjoy being a tourist and go visit the Orkney Brewery.  The visitor center and tasting room opened in the summer of 2012, and I have been looking to get a ‘Skull Splitter’ t-shirt since I first saw one 10 years ago, but was too cheap to buy one.  I would remedy that mistake finally.  Being the off season, and also rather early in the morning for beer drinking, we where the only ones there as we took a short tour and partook in some beer tasting.  More later…

Leaving the brewery, Kirkwall was the next stop as I wanted to photograph the St. Magnus Cathedral where I could at least get some photos.  There is something magical about this building and the red sandstone gives a surreal mood.  Despite the small size, it is one of my favorite cathedrals in Europe.

After a brief lunch in Kirkwall, it was time for the next tourist stop on this rainy day; the Highland Park distillery.  Perhaps I was a bit enthusiastic about tours after my time in Dublin, as I normally try to avoid paying for anything while traveling, but what the hell, I don’t need my arm twisted too much to taste some single malt, not to mention that Highland Park is one of my favorites.  More on the tour later, but I walked away with a bottle of the 15 year old (sorry, Mr. wallet.).

In late afternoon we returned back to Yesnaby for another night sleeping in the car.  I finally noticed a break in the clouds as evening progressed and so I headed out for another attempt at photographing these wild cliffs and and brooding sea.

Stormy seas crash against dramatic coastal cliffs at Yesnaby, Orkney, Scotland

Photo: Yesnaby, Orkney, Scotland.  October 2013

While the onshore wind was still blowing strongly, I managed to find sheltered pockets here and there where I wouldn’t risk my tripod blowing off the cliffs.  What followed over the next hour was improving conditions until a beautiful glow filled the sky behind an approaching set of dark, stormy clouds.  Absolutely perfect timing and condition.  I got my Yesnaby shot. Yay!

We made the decision to head to Hoy for a few days.  While it seems a bit of a waste to take the car, the ferry from Houton to Lyness was not too bad and allowed us to see parts of the island which I hadn’t been to before.

Reading the weather report, a sever gale was approaching.

Old stone wall leads towards Burnmouth Bothy, Rackwick Bay, Hoy, Orkney, Scotland

Photo: Approaching Burnmouth bothy in Rackwick Bay, Hoy, Orkney, Scotland.  October 2013

Old stone walls of Burnmouth Bothy, Rackwick Bay, Hoy, Orkney, Scotland

Burnmouth bothy in Rackwick Bay, Hoy, Orkney, Scotland.  October 2013

Red sandstone boulders on beach at Rackwick Bay, Hoy, Orkney, Scotland

Photo: Worn red sandstone beach at Rackwick bay, Hoy, Orkney, Scotland.  October 2013

Clouds sweep across sky in fading light over beach at Rackwick Bay, Hoy, Orkney, Scotland

Photo: Fading twilight over beach at Rackwick bay, Hoy, Orkney, Scotland.  October 2013

In the parking lot at Rackwick bay we packed our bags and began the short walk to the Burnmouth bothy.  Thankfully, the place was empty when we arrived but soon enough a couple more groups of people arrived.  Ohh well, so much for a quiet night.  But as soon as the group of ‘art’ students from Edinburgh began to make a fire, they immediately smoked the building out, both from fire and their cigaretts.  I tried to instruct them on proper fire methods, but they seemed a bit dense and weren’t interested in listening.  And for some reason they annoyed me.  So, as much as I was looking forward to spending a night again after all these years, we packed our bags and headed out into the sideways rain and back to the car for the night.

Morning came and the gales continued, with passing showers of hale and rain at regular intervals.  We wanted to hike out to the Old Man of Hoy, but decided that this was probably not the day.  Wandering back to the bothy, the winds were so strong it became difficult to walk over the slippery, boggy ground.  The day was mostly spent sitting around though I made a few attempts at photography between showers.  Finally, it was back to the car for another night.

Female hiker looks out window of Burnmouth Bothy, Rackwick Bay, Hoy, Orkney, Scotland

Photo: Watching the rain from Burnmouth bothy, Rackwick bay, Hoy, Orkney, Scotland.  October 2013

View out window of Burnmouth Bothy, Rackwick Bay, Hoy, Orkney, Scotland

Photo: Burnmouth bothy in Rackwick Bay, Hoy, Orkney, Scotland.  October 2013

Morning came.  While the sky still looked threatening, it seemed as if the rain would probably hold off for a while.  Just in case, we dressed in full waterproofs and then set off on the trail towards the Old Man of Hoy.  My first time there, in 2003, it was so windy that I quite literally had to crawl to the edge of the cliff, unable to stand safely.  This time however, the wind was coming from a direction where it seemed to pass over us as it deflected off the cliffs, letting me have a steady enough camera for a few photos.  That was until we were just about to leave and I was taking one last picture.  A wall of wind hit light a train; from calm to nearly knocking me off my feet and blowing my camera off the edge (not that I needed to kill a second camera on this trip).  Trying to stabilize myself and crouch to the ground, I noticed one of our backpacks begin blowing towards the edge of a cliff.  Shit!  I tried to yell to grab the bag, but the wind was too intense and we were both trying to save ourselves that I couldn’t be heard.  The wind nearly blew me over as I ran towards the bag, managing to save it about 2 feet from the cliff.  Phew!

That was enough adventure for the day, and so we headed back towards the car, propelled uphill with the winds at our backs and rain making its approach.  Rounding the corner back to Rackwick bay I stopped for a moment to watch the dancing of light and shadows over the sea.  I remember standing here in 2006 as a passing stranger let me borrow his binoculars to watch a lone basking shark swimming in the crystal blue waters of the bay, the day being slightly nicer.  I quietly whispered my goodbyes to Rackwick before descending back to the car.

Old Man of Hoy sea stack, Hoy, Orkney, Scotland

Photo: Old Man of Hoy, Hoy, Orkney, Scotland.  October 2013

Single lane road through the isolated Rackwick Bay, Hoy, Orkney, Scotland

Photo: Rackwick bay, Hoy, Orkney, Scotland.  October 2013

Back on the Mainland (as the call the main island of Orkney) the sun seemed to be making an appearance finally.  Still wanting a some exterior images of St. Magnus Cathedral we headed back to Kirkwall.  In the lengthening shadows I set off photography.   Years ago, I was struck by the impression of the ravens circling the tower high overhead.  They were still circling this time, chasing each other in an endless game of cat and mouse, their ‘kowws’ and chirps filling the air.  Somehow I managed to myself locked in the cemetery and had to hop a fence to get out again.

It was another brief stop at the standing stones of the Ring of Brodgar before heading back out to Yesnaby for our final night not he islands.  Still stormy, the clouds briefly parted for the rising moon as I wandered the cliffs in the final darkness.

Morning arrived with clear weather, but unfortunately we had to head straight to the ferry.  I was a smooth sailing across the Pentland Firth and past Stoma before landing in Scotland once again.  The long drive back to Wales began.

St. Magnus Cathedral and cemetery, Kirkwall, Orkney, Scotland

Photo: St. Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney, Scotland.  October 2013

Setting sun shines behind standing stone at Ring of Brodgar, Orkney, Scotland

Photo: Ring of Brodgar standing stones, Orkney, Scotland.  October 2013

schmitsch Smicz, Prudnik, Poland

Schmitsch – Smicz

schmitsch Smicz, Prudnik, Poland

Photo: Freshly plowed fields in autumn, Schmitsch/Smicz, Poland

[UPDATE: April 2014 – I have written an updated post about with further information into the Hindera (and other) families – CLICK HERE ]

Rarely do I visit a place that I have a personal connection with.  The tiny village of Schmitsch/smicz is an exception.  It’s the place where my great-great grandfather, Albert Hindera, was born.  In those days it was part of Prussian Silesia.  Today it now lies in Prudnik county, in the south of Poland.

This history of Schmitch, now named Smicz in Polish, is a complex one.  At the center of Europe, the Silesian region (Schlessien) has fallen under the rule of numerous duchies, kingdoms, and empires throughout the centuries.  By the mid 18th century the Prussians gained control over the region from the Austrian Habsburgs.  In 1871 Silesia then became part of the newly formed German empire (Deutsches Reich) where it remained a part of Germany up until the end of WWII, when a majority of the region was transferred to Poland.

In 1879, at the age of 17, Albert, along with several brothers and sisters, left the German port of Bremen for America.  Landing in Baltimore he took the train to Nebraska, eventually ending up with land in western part of the state.  He built himself a house out of sod and started a farm.  After 5 years, he was awarded the deed to his land, upon which he sold it and bought another farm in the southeast of Nebraska near the town of Steinauer, where the soil was better.  There he married another Silesian immigrant, Anna Lempka and in 1889 my great-grandfather George Hindera was born.  Looking at family records it seems like half of Schmitsch must have traveled to America during that period.  The names of the Nebraska census closely match those from the war memorials, cemetery, and church records in Smicz.

I was granted the privilege to look in the hand written church birth/baptism registry where I saw the names of long forgotten family and the records of their births from centuries past.  Even finding a few new names of my family line further back in time.  It was somewhat difficult to read the old German handwriting.  Especially once I got used to one persons writing style in the book, and then a new person took over with even worse handwriting!

I unfortunately was not allowed to take any photos of the books, not sure why not.  It’s a bit frustrating to realize how much information is locked away in those old books with their deteriorating paper and fading ink.  And there is no real access to it outside of going there, and hopefully having someone who speaks the language of the local priest.  I guess I should also be thankful that my family records have survived two wars and dramatic political changes.  Hopefully I can return in another few years and keep looking back further in time and maybe try and get permission to take some photos.  The records go back to the 1500’s.

Looking at the war memorial in the city center, I guess it is a good thing my family left.  The names Brinsa, Hindera, Mellar, and Peschel are all of direct ancestry to me, and probably nephews/cousins of Albert.  It seems a large toll was taken from this small town of 500 souls.   The cost of the second world war was even greater.

Schmitsch smicz poland bilingual sign

Photo: Bilingual Polish/German city sign.  The region where Schmitsch/Smicz lies is one of the few areas in Poland where German has recently become an official recognized language once again.

Rural road in poor condition, Smicz, Opole, Southern Poland

Photo: Main road into town.  Could use some paving.

Schmitsch smicz poland

Photo: Downtown Smicz.  Other than the asphalt and power lines, it probably hasn’t changed much since Albert left.  When I return I’ll see if the family home still exists.

German war memorial schmitsch smicz poland

Photo: WWI memorial.  A lot of names, both German and Polish, for a village of 500.

Callanish Standing Stones

callanish standing stones

Photo: Nikon SB 800 illuminates Callanish Standing stones at night, Isle of Lewis, Scotland

Stopped by one calm evening, until the rain arrived, at the Callanish Standing stones on the Isle of Lewis.  Once it was dark I pulled out the SB 800 and played around with some off camera lighting.  The results are nothing special, but it’s always fun for me to experiment with stuff like this.  Had the weather cooperated better I could have stayed for several more hours.

callanish standing stones

callanish standing stones

Callanish Standing Stones – Isle of Lewis

Callanish standing stones

Photo: Callanish standing stones, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

The standing stones at Callanish are one of the more important sites in Scotland.  These image are from the main stone circle, but there are also several other smaller circles within view from this location.  And although I’ve done my best to make the location look isolated, in reality there is a village and houses just a 100 meters away.  Kind of takes away a bit of the mystery of a place like this.  For me it is some ancient place out of the long forgotten past.  In my mind it would be better located off in some distant boggy moorland with nothing else around.  For the locals of the village, it’s just a place they walk their dogs through.  The other stones at Callanish are just in the middle of sheep and cow pasture.

Anyhow, even though the stones have been photographed a million + times, they where still one of the locations I wanted to visit on my island trip.  I first stopped by in mid afternoon and got lucky with some blue sky and sun.  next I returned just prior to sunset and again was lucky and had about 10 minutes of sun before it disappeared behind the clouds.  I waited a bit into the night and was again lucky with the rising full moon.  I got a bit bored, and cold, waiting around for the sky to darken so I pulled out my flash and decided to play around a bit.  I must have looked like a complete mad man, running around the stones in the dark, popping off my flash at apparently random times, then running back to my camera.  Luckily I was the only one around by this point.

Callanish standing stones, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Evening sky over Callanish standing stones, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Callanish standing stones

Silhouette of Callanish standing stones, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Maen Llia

Maen Llia standing stone, Brecon Beacons national park, Wales

Photo: Maen Llia standing stone, Brecon Beacons national park, Wales

It’s been on my mind lately to try and make some portrait style photos of some of the standing stones in the Brecon Beacons region.  Last night was my first attempt at this, using a single Nikon SB-800 as an off camera flash and the gigantic Maen Llia stone as my model.  Unfortunately, and what seems to be my luck these last few months, it started raining after about 10 minutes, before the sky was dark enough to really create the photos that I wanted.    Hopefully I can make it back again in the next few weeks and have another try.

Also, if you read my blog by RSS feed, stop by and have a look.  I’ve made a few changes, the biggest of which will be larger images, now up to 950px wide.  Though if your monitor resolution is less than 1200px, it might look a bit funny, sorry…

Maen Llia standing stone, Brecon Beacons national park, Wales

Nidaros Cathedral

Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim, Norway

Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim, Norway.

I had 1.5 days to wander around Trondheim at the end of my Norway trip back in August.  Luckily I had some nice sunny weather as I wandered around the streets.

Nidaros Cathedral river reflection, Trondheim, Norway


Church ruin, Kilmuir, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Church ruin, Kilmuir, Isle of Skye, Scotland.

I’ve no idea of the history of this ruin.  Though by the looks and condition of it, I wouldn’t imagine it to be more than 200 or so years old, which is relatively new by Skye standards. It’s a big structure, offset from the ‘highway’ by about a half mile or so.  Perhaps it simply fell out of use with time and population decline.  Now only sheep and cows walk among the walls, and American photographers.

Stenness Stones – Orkney

Stenness standing stones, Orkney landscape photography

Standing Stones of Stenness, Orkney.

The Stenness stones, along with the Ring of Brodgar form part of the UNESCO world heritage site known as ‘the Heart of Neolithic Orkney.’  From Stenness, Brodgar is within eyesight and about a 5 minute walk to the north.  The Neolithic chambered cairn, Maeshowe, is also within visible and also a short walk away.

Even though the stones are man made, their age makes the appear as just another element of the Orkadian landscape.  Something that is just ‘there’ as you drive by in a car or are looking out the window of a bus.  Covered in moss, struck by lightning, and standing among grazing sheep,  simply ‘there;’ part of a living land.

Stenness standing stones, Orkney Neolithic site photo

Ring of Brodgar – Orkney

Ring of Brodgar, Orkney, Scotland, stock image

Winter dawn at Ring of Brodgar, Orkney, Scotland.

In December, the sun has little strength to rise very far above the horizon this far in the north.  The winter days are short and the nights long, only to be reversed in a few months during the endless days of summer.  Such a contrast of light at dark that I never knew growing up at a more mild latitude.  No wonder that the sun played such an important role in the lives of the ancient peoples of this barren land.

It is always a strange feeling for me to walk amongst something so old.  To think that these stones have seen some 5,000 winters, and will probably see another 5,000 more;  it helps to put things in perspective about the importance of our ‘achievements.’