Heritage of Farnish

The Farnishite Barque

An unusual mode of marine transport:

This strange vehicle is still in use by a few fishermen of the village of Gelling. The Farnishite Barque is actually a hollowed Beech Tree Trunk (traditionally, this is the only wood used). One long branch is left on the trunk as a Keel, from which a large stone is hung as ballast. Three shorter stumps are left topside to which there are attached freshly cut leafy boughs to serve as a means of propulsion by wind. The barque shown above seats two persons. The largest known boat of this kind was said to have seated fifteen.

The Farnishite Casting Thiln

This hunting weapon, the expert use of which is early inculcated among the Young of the Island, has been utilised since pre-history. It consists of a foot-long straight Ash stick and a half dozen large flat stones pierced by a hole and fitting loosely on the stick. The stones are carried on a specially hooked belt called a Hab. The missiles are called Runes, from the Runic characters carved on each to denote ownership. By fitting a Rune on to the stick (or Thiln), one can, by flicking the latter in the direction of the target, direct the Rune with considerable force and accuracy at a running or stationary mark. This is called Casting the Runes.

A Strange Custom


On Midsummer's Day it is customary to find the Islanders gathered in the Market Places of Gelling and Farnisham for what is called the "Humbug Fest." Aside from the usual festive activities (much drinking of Beer and the local brew Shlug), the most notable event of the day is the Humbug Dance, which starts at sunrise and continues by relay until sunset, at which time the best dancer is judged King of the Humbugs by popular acclaim. The dance is performed with one's hands, while the dancer is suspended from a tree by ropes.

[A kind of Bungee Hand Jive? Among the uncompiled notes to the original book, there was a mention that the winner was often thrown promptly into the harbor. --G.S.]

The Literature of Farnish

There has been but one poet of note in the history of Farnish. This was Billy 'Maister' Millweel (1750-1848*), who wrote his first poem at the age of 82, after his retirement from the Fish-Scaling factory. He produced 8 volumes of poetry...celebrating the History of the Island -- his best in this vein being the Epic "Nellie the Bold" --, its topography, and its industries. He also collected the 22 extant anonymous ballads and songs of Farnish, dating from c.1500 to the present.... Farnish has produced no writers of prose or fiction to date [1841]**

* Date of death supplied by the editor. There is a posthumous poem by the author that records this event.
** The astute observer will have observed a Shortling Isomerism in this. --G.S.