Dog-Skin Fishing Buoy
Content warning. Some visitors may find this object upsetting.
This is a gruesome but fascinating object! This buoy was made from the recycled skin of a dead dog. People discovered that dog skin wasn’t porous so could be used as floats. Dogs were hung first much like is done with deerskin, then coated with archangel tar for additional waterproofing.
A rope was attached to the head end of the buoy and as the net filled with fish the buoy would bob up and down in the water giving rise to the saying “the dogs are fair dancing today”.
Nowadays, buoys are made from plastic but this object shows how nothing went to waste – not even the skin of a dog that had died.
It was found inside the wall of a house in Melness along with a lady’s boot and an empty whisky bottle. It is likely that these were placed there to bring good luck to the house.