The Orcadian Stone Company Story
The largest private Geological Exhibition in Scotland and one of the finest mineral collections anywhere.
Anne & Don Shelley moved to Knockan in West Sutherland in the late 1960’s where, as part of his work with the Nature Conservancy Council, he had to establish a path up to the Moine Thrust contact point which is visible at Knockan Crag. This sparked his interest in Geology.
Anne & Don established their business in Golspie in 1970. Starting in a small way, they managed to make a living selling gemstone jewellery, eventually buying and selling mineral specimens. He always kept the best back from what they bought and sold, (the beginning of their small collection) this eventually grew into what you see today as a vast collection of some of the finest minerals.
They travelled extensively through Norway and this also grew the collection with many now “unavailable” specimens outwith Norway.
They had extensive access to mines in Cumbria, allowing an irreplaceable display of Haematite from the iron ore mine at Beckermit. The also had access to beautiful Fluorite specimens from Weardale, now also irreplaceable.
This though was not their main interest. Geology was the subject that became his passion.
Joined by their son Bruce in 1979, who extended the workshop with his interest in “making things out of stone”. Don & Anne were able to cut cross sections of geological specimens they had collected and show what was inside these rocks.
Once established they enjoyed speaking with tourists and experts alike about Highland Geology and because they were self taught, they were able to speak on a level which accessed geology for everyday of people.
Don and Anne enjoyed giving a personal tour, one to one conversations to visitors about rocks, geology, fossils, scenery, plants, all that encompasses “Geology”.
Bruce and his wife Rose went on to establish Sutherland Stonework in 2000 which concentrates on architectural and things made of stone, while also still supplying the Shop with Scottish goods, with the removal of the workshop from Orcadian Stone Co, Anne and Don were able to extend their exhibition into the old workshop, to give it the floorspace it now required.
The collections further grew until Don died in 2002. Anne went on with managing the business until her retirement in 2009 and the business is now managed by Bruce and Rose who hope to keep the legacy of Anne & Don’s Collection going for many more people to enjoy in future years.