Hebridean currency now in National Museum of Scotland
A little piece of a tiny island off Harris is now formally archived in the National Museum of Scotland.
The Sgarabhaigh Silver Sixpence, which was created as part of a project by island owner Dave Hill to conserve and share his Hebridean haven with the rest of the world, has now been archived.
Dave set up Friends of Sgarabahigh to offer Holdings on the island in the Sound of Harris and to give people across the globe a chance to contribute to his sustainability project.
The coin design is based on an ancient coin of the realm and incorporates a blend of the ancient and modern history of the island as well as three ecological cornerstones of the place. It is minted in fine silver which is 99.9% pure silver.
Explaining that to have the islands unique currency in the National Museum of Scotland was a special development for him, Dave said “The Senior Numismatic curator Mr Nicholas Holmes was impressed with the coin’s story and the quality of the minting and he has taken the two coin packages and archived them with the story and a link to our website. I was a very proud chap when he told me what he thought about the coin and even prouder about the fact that it had been recorded for all time in the museum.”
The coin is based on the silver sixpence produced by James VI of Scotland (1588-1625) also James I of England (1603 – 1625).
What would normally be the head side of the coin is dedicated to the ecological aspects of the project and has a Cormorant with its wings spread as a replacement for the traditional Monarch’s head. This is due to the Gaelic word Sgarabhaigh meaning Cormorant Island.
The coin also illustrates the seal and the dolphin which are regular sights around the island.
The motto of the project is also clear on the coin stating ‘Lean Bhur Ashlig’ which means ‘Follow Your Dreams’ AS Dave has done with the progression of this unique project.
On the reverse side of the coin is the island’s link to the Stuarts, the Royal House of Scotland, represented by the Chequered Pattern in the top left hand quarter. Next they have included a link to the family from which the island was bought – the MacKenzies, represented by the Stag’s Head in the top right hand corner. Finally there is a link to owner Dave Hill whose family name is represented by the Castle in the bottom right hand corner.
Finally to recognize the Celtic linkage between Ireland, there is a harp in the bottom left hand corner.
Family moto’s for all three are also included on the coin; ‘Noblis est ira leonis’ – ‘The wrath of the lion is honorable’ for the Stuarts, ‘Luceo no uro’ – We shine but not burn’ for the MacKenzies and ‘Avancez’ meaning ‘Advance’ for the Hills.
The Friends of Sgarabhaigh project has certainly taken off since Dave bought the island in 2004.
There is now a strong group of ‘Friends’ many of whom have now visited the island and have been hugely impressed by not only the environment but also by the details of the project as a whole.
The ‘Holdings’ sold by Dave provide a lifetime’s membership of an international family that is set to grow down the generations. It is intended that the island becomes a family heirloom and that the Associate Owners feel that they have a real and tangible place set in one of the most beautiful and unspoilt parts of Scotland. Another important element of the project is to provide a focus for the genealogical development of family history through the island ‘Holding’.
Looking to the future, Dave is now working on a short film to put on his website and onto You tube which will present the island and its wildlife.
'The Journal' - July 2004
'The Tamworth Herald' - 15 th July 2004
'The Hebridean' - 29 th April 2005
'The Scottish Islands Network Newsletter - May 2005
'The Shropshire Star' - 8 th August 2005
'The Advertiser' - 12 th August 2005
'The Tamworth Times' - 1 st September 2005
'Stornoway Gazette - 15th March 2007