The Piers of Dunnottar
It takes several days, depending upon the weather to construct each pier. There are
public piers usually known by their street location and increasingly private piers
exclusive to the cottage owners who pay for their installation each season. A growing
concern is the passing of the knowledge of pier building between the generations. The
elders who age into the spotter position retire from the practice and take their incredible
sense of proportion with them. The younger men have to gain the confidence to learn
to literally build out over water. Calls have gone out for those game enough to learn the
ropes, so to speak, to take up the practice.
The piers are often a mystery for
many guests as people speculate on
how they are built. The materials are
natural poplar poles brought in from
across the lake, chosen for their true
and straight proportions and wooden
planking. Walking out on them can be
a sensual experience with fear and
fascination mixed as you leave the
shore and walk out over the water.
You come to the seating area and
realize you are on the deck of a large
anchored boat out in the lake.
This only adds to the sense of
mystery of how did they do that? The
answer is a cantilever system in which
a platform suspended in space out
over the water allows the team to
place each successive posts and
decking in sections. This takes a team
of three, two doing the building and a
third, a spotter on shore directing the
placement of each pole in line and in
depth to each other.