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Orkney, also known as the Orkney Islands, (and sometimes incorrectly as "The Orkneys" ), is an archipelago in northern Scotlandmarker, situated 10 miles (16 km) north of the coast of Caithnessmarker. Orkney comprises approximately 70 islands of which 20 are inhabited.The largest island, known as the "Mainlandmarker" has an area of making it the sixth largest Scottish island and the tenth-largest island in the British Islesmarker. The largest settlement and administrative centre is Kirkwallmarker.

The name "Orkney" dates back to the 1st century BC or earlier, and the islands have been inhabited for at least 8,500 years. Originally occupied by Mesolithic and Neolithic tribes and then by the Picts, Orkney was invaded and then annexed by Norwaymarker in 875 and settled by the Norse. It was subsequently annexed to the Scottish Crown in 1472, following the failed payment of a dowry for James III's bride, Margaret of Denmark. Orkney contains some of the oldest and best-preserved Neolithic sites in Europe, and the "Heart of Neolithic Orkneymarker" is a designated UNESCOmarker World Heritage Site.

Orkney is one of the 32 council areas of Scotland, a constituency of the Scottish Parliamentmarker, a lieutenancy area, and a former county. The local council is Orkney Islands Council, one of only two Councils in Scotland with a majority of elected members who are independents.

In addition to the Mainland, most of the islands are in two groups, the North and South Isles, all of which have an underlying geological base of Old Red Sandstone. The climate is mild and the soils are fertile, most of the land being farmed. Agriculture is most important sector of the economy and the significant wind and marine energy resources are of growing importance. The local people are known as Orcadians and have a distinctive dialect and a rich inheritance of folklore. There is an abundance of marine and avian wildlife.

Origin of the name

Pytheas of Massilia visited Britain sometime between 322 and 285 BC and described it as being triangular in shape, with a northern tip called Orcas. This may have referred to Dunnet Head, from which Orkney is visible. Writing in the 1st century AD, the Roman geographer Pomponius Mela called the islands Orcades, as did Tacitus in AD 98, claiming that his father-in-law Agricola had "discovered and subjugated the Orcades hitherto unknown" although both Mela and Pliny had previously referred to the islands. "Orc" is usually interpreted as a Pictish tribal name meaning "young pig" or "young boar". The old Irish Gaelic name for the islands was Insi Orc ("island of the pigs"). The archipelago is known as Arcaibh in modern Scottish Gaelic. When Norwegian Vikings arrived on the islands they interpreted "orc" as orkn which is Old Norse for seal and added the suffix ey meaning "island". Thus the name became Orkneyjar (meaning "seal islands") which was later shortened to Orkney in English.



A charred hazelnut shell, recovered during the excavations at Longhowe in Tankerness in 2007, has been dated to 6820-6660 BC indicating the presence of Mesolithic nomadic tribes. The earliest known permanent settlement is at Knap of Howarmarker, a Neolithic farmstead on the island of Papa Westraymarker, which dates from 3500 BC. The village of Skara Braemarker, Europe's best-preserved Neolithic settlement, is believed to have been inhabited from around 3100 BC. Other remains from that era include the Standing Stones of Stennessmarker, the Maeshowemarker passage grave, the Ring of Brodgarmarker and other standing stones. Many of the Neolithic settlements were abandoned around 2500 BC, possibly due to changes in the climate.

During the Bronze Age fewer large stone structures were built although the great ceremonial circles continued in use as metalworking was slowly introduced to Scotland from Europe over a lengthy period. There are relatively few Orcadian sites dating from this era although there is the impressive Plumcake Mound near the Ring of Brodgar and various islands sites such as Tofts Ness on Sandaymarker and the remains of two houses on Holm of Faraymarker.

Iron Age

Excavations at Quanterness have revealed an Atlantic roundhouse built about 700 BC and similar finds have been made at Bu on the Mainland and Pierowall Quarry on Westray. The most impressive Iron Age structures of Orkney are the ruins of later round towers called "brochs" and their associated settlements such as the Broch of Burroughston and Broch of Gurnessmarker. The nature and origin of these buildings is a subject of ongoing debate. Other structures from this period include underground storehouses, and aisled roundhouses, the latter usually in association with earlier broch sites.

During the Roman invasion of Britain the "King of Orkney" was one of 11 British leaders who is said to have submitted to the Emperor Claudius in AD 43 at Colchestermarker. After the Agricolan fleet had come and gone, possibly anchoring at Shapinsaymarker, direct Roman influence seems to have been limited to trade rather than conquest.

Later in the Iron Age it becomes clear that Orkney was part of the Brythonic-speaking Pictish kingdom, and although the archaeological remains from this period are less impressive there is every reason to suppose the fertile soils and rich seas of Orkney provided the Picts with a comfortable living. The Dalriadic Gaels began to influence in the islands towards the close of the Pictish realm, perhaps principally through the role of Celtic mission, as evidenced by several islands bearing the epithet "Papa" in commemoration of these preachers. However, before the Gaelic presence could establish itself the Picts were gradually dispossessed by the Norsemen from the late 8th century onwards. The nature of this transition is controversial, and theories range from peaceful integration to enslavement and genocide.

Norwegian rule

Both Orkney and Shetlandmarker saw a significant influx of Norwegian settlers during the late 8th and early 9th centuries. Vikings made the islands the headquarters of their buccaneering expeditions carried out against Norway and the coasts of mainland Scotland and in response Harald Hårfagre ("Harald Fair Hair") annexed the Northern Isles to Norway in 875. Rognvald Eysteinsson received Orkney and Shetland from Harald as an earldom as reparation for the death of his son in battle in Scotland, and then passed the earldom on to his brother Sigurd the Mighty.

However, Sigurd's line barely survived him and it was Rognvald's son by a slave, Torf-Einarr, who founded a dynasty which retained control of the islands for centuries after his death. He was succeeded by his son Thorfinn Skull-splitter and during this time the deposed Norwegian King Eric Bloodaxe often used Orkney as a raiding base before being killed in 954. Thorfinn's death and presumed burial at the broch of Hoxa, on South Ronaldsaymarker, led to a long period of dynastic strife.

The islands were Christianised by Olav Tryggvasson in 995 when he stopped at South Wallsmarker on his way from Ireland to Norway. The King summoned the jarl Sigurd the Stout and said "I order you and all your subjects to be baptised. If you refuse, I'll have you killed on the spot and I swear I will ravage every island with fire and steel." Unsurprisingly, Sigurd agreed and the islands became Christian at a stroke, receiving their own bishop in the early 1000s.

Thorfinn the Mighty was a son of Sigurd and a grandson of King Máel Coluim mac Cináeda (Malcolm II of Scotland). Along with Sigurd's other sons he ruled Orkney during the first half of the 11th century and extended his authority over a small maritime empire stretching from Dublinmarker to Shetlandmarker. Thorfinn died around 1065 and his sons Paul and Erlend succeeded him, fighting at the Battle of Stamford Bridgemarker in 1066. Paul and Erlend quarreled as adults and this dispute carried on to the next generation. The "martyrdom" of Magnus Erlendsson, who was killed in April 1116 by his cousin Haakon Paulsson, resulted in the building of St. Magnus Cathedralmarker, still today a dominating feature of Kirkwall.

Unusually, from Thorfinn's time onwards the Norse jarls owed allegiance both to Norway for Orkney and to the Scottish crown through their holdings as Earls of Caithness. At various times during the 11th to 13th centuries, Orkney was also part of the Norse Kingdom of Mann and the Isles whose Kings were in turn vassals of the Kings of Norway. In 1231 the line of Norse earls, unbroken since Rognvald, ended with Jon Haraldsson's murder in Thursomarker. The Earldom of Caithness was granted to Magnus, second son of the Earl of Angus, whom Haakon IV of Norway confirmed as Earl of Orkney in 1236. In 1290 the death of the child princess Margaret, Maid of Norway in Orkney en route to mainland Scotland created a disputed succession which led to the Wars of Scottish Independence. In 1379 the earldom passed to the the Sinclair family, who were also barons of Roslin near Edinburghmarker.

Evidence of the Viking presence is widespread, and includes the settlement at the Brough of Birsaymarker, the vast majority of place name, and the runic inscriptions at Maeshowe.

Scottish rule

In 1468 Orkney was pledged by Christian I, in his capacity as king of Norway, as security against the payment of the dowry of his daughter Margaret, betrothed to James III of Scotland. As the money was never paid, the connection with the crown of Scotland has become perpetual.

The history of Orkney prior to this time is largely the history of the ruling aristocracy. From now on the ordinary people emerge with greater clarity. An influx of Scottish entrepreneurs helped to create a diverse and independent community that included farmers, fishermen and merchants that called themselves comunitatis Orcadie and who proved themselves increasing able to defend their rights against their feudal overlords.

From the 16th century onwards or earlier boats from mainland Scotland and the Netherlandsmarker dominated the local herring fishery. There is little evidence of an Orcadian fleet until the 19th century but it grew rapidly and 700 boats were involved by the 1840s with Stronsay and then later Stromness becoming leading centres of development. White fish never became as dominant as in other Scottish ports.

In the 17th century, Orcadians formed the overwhelming majority of employees of the Hudson's Bay Company in Canadamarker. The harsh climate of Orkney and the Orcadian reputation for sobriety and their boat handling skills made them ideal candidates for the rigours of the Canadian north. During this period, burning kelp briefly became a mainstay of the islands' economy. For example on Shapinsay over of burned seaweed were produced per annum to make soda ash, bringing in £20,000 to the local economy.

Agricultural improvements beginning in the 17th century resulted in the enclosure of the commons and ultimately in the Victoria era the emergence of large and well-managed farms using a five-shift rotation system and producing high quality beef cattle.

20th century

Orkney was the site of a Royal Navy base at Scapa Flowmarker, which played a major role in both World War I and II. After the Armistice in 1918, the German High Seas Fleet was transferred in its entirety to Scapa Flow while a decision was to be made on its future; however, the German sailors opened their sea-cocks and scuttled all the ships. Most ships were salvaged, but the remaining wrecks are now a favoured haunt of recreational divers. One month into World War II, the Royal Navy battleship HMS Royal Oakmarker was sunk by a German U-boat in Scapa Flow. As a result barriersmarker were built to close most of the access channels; these had the additional advantage of creating causeways enabling travellers to go from island to island by road instead of being obliged to rely on ferries. The causeways were constructed by Italian prisoners of war, who also constructed the ornate Italian Chapelmarker.

The navy base was run down after the war, eventually closing in 1957. The problem of a declining population was significant in the post-war years, although in the last decades of the 20th century there was a recovery and life in Orkney focused on growing prosperity and the emergence of a relatively classless society.

Overview of population trends

In the modern era population peaked in the mid 19th century at just over 26,000 and declined for a century thereafter to a low of less than 17,000 in the 1970s. Declines were particularly significant in the outlying islands, some of which remain vulnerable to ongoing losses. Although Orkney is in many ways very distinct from the other islands and archipelagos of Scotland this trend is very similar to those experienced elsewhere.

Year Population
1801 22,280
1811 18,531
1821 23,207
1831 24,411
1841 25,526
1851 26,409
Year Population
1921 24,144
1931 22,102
1941 21,688
1951 21,275
1961 19,125
1971 16,976
1981 18,418
1991 19,570
2001 19,245


The Pentland Firthmarker is a seaway which separates Orkney from the mainland of Scotland; it is wide between Brough Ness on the island of South Ronaldsaymarker and Duncansby Headmarker in Caithnessmarker. Orkney lies between 58°41′and 59°24′North, and 2°22′and 3°26′West, measuring from northeast to southwest and from east to west, and covers .

The islands are mainly low-lying except for some sharply rising sandstone hills on Hoy, Mainland and Rousay and rugged cliffs on some western coasts. Nearly all of the islands have lochs, but the watercourses are merely streams draining the high land. The coastlines are indented, and the islands themselves are divided from each other by straits generally called "sounds" or "firths".

The tidal currents, or "roosts" as some of them are called locally, off many of the isles are swift, with frequent whirlpools. The islands are notable for the absence of trees, which is partly accounted for by the amount of wind.


The Mainland

The Mainland is the largest island of Orkney. Both of Orkney's burghs, Kirkwallmarker and Stromnessmarker, are on this island, which is also the heart of Orkney's transportation system, with ferry and air connections to the other islands and to the outside world. The island is more densely populated (75% of Orkney's population) than the other islands and has much fertile farmland.

The island is mostly low-lying (especially East Mainland) but with coastal cliffs to the north and west and two sizeable lochs: the Loch of Harraymarker and the Loch of Stennessmarker. The Mainland contains the remnants of numerous Neolithic, Pictish and Viking constructions. Four of the main Neolithic sites are included in the Heart of Neolithic Orkneymarker World Heritage Site, inscribed in 1999.

The other islands in the group are classified as north or south of the Mainland. Exceptions are the remote islets of Sule Skerrymarker and Sule Stackmarker, which lie west of the archipelago, but form part of Orkney for local government purposes.

The North Isles

The northern group of islands is the most extensive and consists of a large number of moderately sized islands, linked to the Mainland by ferries and by air services. Farming, fishing and tourism are the main sources of income for most of the islands. The suffix "a" or "ay" represents the Norse ey, meaning "island". Those described as "holms" are very small.

The most northerly is North Ronaldsaymarker, which lies beyond its nearest neighbour, Sanday. To the west is Westraymarker has a population of 550. It is connected by ferry and air to Papa Westraymarker, also known as "Papay". Edaymarker is at the centre of the North Islesmarker. The centre of the island is moorland and the island's main industries have been peat extraction and limestone quarrying.

Rousaymarker, Egilsaymarker and Gairsaymarker lie north of the west Mainland across the Eynhallow Sound. Rousay is well-known for its ancient monuments, including the Quoyness chambered cairn and Egilsay has the ruins of the only round-towered church in Orkney. Wyremarker to the south east contains the site of Cubbie Roo's castle. Stronsaymarker and Papa Stronsaymarker lie much further to the east across the Stronsay Firth. Auskerrymarker is south of Stronsay and has a population of only five. Shapinsaymarker and its Balfour Castlemarker are a short distance north of Kirkwall.

Other small uninhabited islands in the North Isles group include: Calf of Edaymarker, Damsaymarker, Eynhallowmarker, Faraymarker, Helliar Holmmarker, Holm of Faraymarker, Holm of Huipmarker, Holm of Papamarker, Holm of Scocknessmarker, Kili Holmmarker, Linga Holmmarker, Muckle Green Holmmarker, Rusk Holmmarker and Sweyn Holmmarker.

The South Isles

The southern group of islands surrounds Scapa Flowmarker. Hoy is the second largest of the Orkney Isles and Ward Hillmarker at its northern end is the highest elevation in the archipelago. The Old Man of Hoymarker is a well-known sea stack. Burraymarker lies to the east of Scapa Flow and is linked by causeway to South Ronaldsay, which hosts the Boys' Ploughing Match and is the location of the Neolithic Tomb of the Eaglesmarker. Graemsaymarker and Flottamarker are both linked by ferry to the Mainland and Hoy, and the latter is known for its large oil terminal. South Wallsmarker has a 19th century Martello tower and is connected to Hoy by the Ayre. South Ronaldsay, Burray and Lamb Holmmarker are connected by road to the Mainland by the Churchill Barriersmarker.

Uninhabited South Islands include: Calf of Flottamarker, Cavamarker, Copinsaymarker, Corn Holmmarker, Faramarker, Glims Holmmarker, Hundamarker, Lamb Holm, Rysa Littlemarker, Swithamarker and Swonamarker. The Pentland Skerriesmarker lie further south, closer to the Scottish mainland.


The superficial rock is almost entirely Old Red Sandstone, mostly of Middle Devonian age. As in the neighbouring mainland county of Caithnessmarker, these rocks rest upon the metamorphic rocks of the Moine series, as may be seen on the Mainland, where a narrow strip is exposed between Stromness and Inganess, and again in the small island of Graemsaymarker; they are represented by grey gneiss and granite.

The Middle Devonian is divided into three main groups. The lower part of the sequence, mostly Eifelian in age, is dominated by lacustrine beds of the lower and upper Stromness Flagstones that were deposited in Lake Orcadie. The later Rousay flagstone formation is found throughout much of the North and South Isles and East Mainland.
Geology of Orkney
The Old Man of Hoy is formed from sandstone of the uppermost Eday group that is up to thick in places. It lies unconformably upon steeply inclined flagstones, the interpretation of which is a matter of continuing debate.

The Devonian and older rocks of Orkney are cut by a series of WSW-ENE to N-S trending faults, many of which were active during deposition of the Devonian sequences. A strong synclinal fold traverses Eday and Shapinsay, the axis trending north-south.

Middle Devonian basaltic volcanic rocks are found on western Hoy, on Deerness in eastern Mainland and on Shapinsay. Correlation between the Hoy volcanics and the other two exposures has been proposed, but differences in chemistry means this remains uncertain. Lamprophyre dykes of Late Permian age are found throughout Orkney.

Many indications of ice action can be found on these islands: there are numerous striated surfaces; many chalk, flint, etc. erratics from the bed of the North Sea rest upon the old strata; boulder clay is abundant and moraines cover substantial areas.


Orkney has a cool temperate climate; the climate is remarkably mild and steady for such a northerly latitude, due to the influence of the Gulf Stream. The average temperature for the year is 8°C (46°F), for winter 4°C (39°F) and for summer 12°C (54°F).

The average annual rainfall varies from to . Winds are a key feature of the climate and even in summer there are almost constant breezes. In winter, there are frequent strong winds, with an average of 52 hours of gales being recorded annually.

To tourists, one of the fascinations of the islands is their "nightless" summers. On the longest day, the sun rises at 03:00 and sets at 21:29 GMT and complete darkness is unknown. This long twilight is known in the Northern Isles as the "simmer dim". Winter nights, however, are long. On the shortest day the sun rises at 09:05 and sets at 15:16. At this time of year the aurora borealis can occasionally be seen on the northern horizon during moderate auroral activity.


Orkney is represented in the House of Commonsmarker as part of the Orkney and Shetlandmarker constituency, which elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election. The current MP is Alistair Carmichael of the Liberal Democrats.

In the Scottish Parliamentmarker the Orkney constituency elects one Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) by the first past the post system. The current MSP is Liam McArthur of the Liberal Democrats. Before McArthur the MSP was Jim Wallace, who was previously Deputy First Minister. Orkney is within the Highlands and Islands electoral region.

Orkney Islands Council consists of 21 members, all of whom are independent, that is they are not members of a political party.

The Orkney Movement, a political party that supported devolution for Orkney from the rest of Scotland, contested the 1987 UK general election as the Orkney and Shetland Movement (a coalition of the Orkney movement and its equivalent for Shetland). The Scottish National Party chose not to contest the seat to give the movement a "free run". Their candidate, John Goodlad, came 4th with 3,095 votes, 14.5% of those cast, but the experiment has not been repeated.


The soil is generally very fertile and most of the land is taken up by farms, agriculture being by far the most important sector of the economy and providing employment for a quarter of the workforce. More than 90% of the land under agricultural use is grazing for sheep and cattle, with cereal production utilising about 4% ( ) and woodland occupying only .

Fishing has declined in importance, but still employed 345 individuals in 2001, about 3.5% of the islands' economically active population, the modern industry concentrating on herring, white fish, lobsters, crabs and other shellfish, and salmon fish farming.

Today, the traditional sectors of the economy export beef, cheese, whisky, beer, fish and other seafood. In recent years there has been growth in other areas including tourism, food and beverage manufacture, jewellery, knitwear, and other crafts production, construction and oil transportation through the Flottamarker oil terminal. Retailing accounts for 17.5% of total employment, and public services also play a significant role, employing a third of the islands' workforce.

In 2007, of the 1,420 VAT registered enterprises 55% were in agriculture, forestry and fishing, 12% in manufacturing and construction, 12% in wholesale, retail and repairs, and 5% in hotels and restaurants. A further 5% were public service related. 55% of these businesses employ between 5 and 49 people.

Orkney has significant wind and marine energy resources, and renewable energy has recently come into prominence. The European Marine Energy Centremarker (EMEC) is a Scottish Government-backed research facility that has installed a wave testing system at Billia Croo on the Orkney Mainland and a tidal power testing station on the island of Eday. At the official opening of the Eday project the site was described as "the first of its kind in the world set up to provide developers of wave and tidal energy devices with a purpose-built performance testing facility." Funding for the UK's first wave farm was announced by the Scottish Government in 2007. It will be the world's largest, with a capacity of 3 MW generated by four Pelamis machines at a cost of over £4 million. During 2007 Scottish and Southern Energy plc in conjunction with the University of Strathclyde began the implementation of a Regional Power Zone in the Orkney archipelago. This ground-breaking scheme (that may be the first of its kind in the world) involves "active network management" that will make better use of the existing infrastructure and allow a further 15MW of new "non-firm generation" output from renewables onto the network.



The main airport in Orkney is Kirkwall Airportmarker, operated by Highland and Islands Airports. Loganair, a franchise of Flybe, provides services to the Scottish mainland (Aberdeenmarker, Edinburghmarker, Glasgowmarker and Invernessmarker), as well as to Sumburgh Airportmarker in Shetland.

Within Orkney, the council operates airfields on most of the larger islands including Stronsaymarker, Edaymarker, North Ronaldsaymarker, Westraymarker, Papa Westraymarker, and Sandaymarker. Reputedly the shortest scheduled air service in the world, between the islands of Westray and Papa Westray, is scheduled at two minutes duration but can take less than one minute if the wind is in the right direction.


Ferries serve both to link Orkney to the rest of Scotland, and also to link together the various islands of the Orkney archipelago. Ferry services operate between Orkney and the Scottish mainland and Shetland on the following routes:

Inter-island ferry services connect all the inhabited islands to Orkney Mainland, and are operated by Orkney Ferries, a company owned by Orkney Islands Council.


Orkney is served by two weekly local newspapers, The Orcadian and Orkney Today.

A local BBC radio station, BBC Radio Orkney, the local opt-out of BBC Radio Scotland, broadcasts twice daily, with local news and entertainment. Orkney also has a commercial radio station, The Superstation Orkney, which broadcasts to Kirkwall and parts of the mainland. Moray Firth Radio broadcasts throughout Orkney on AM and from an FM transmitter just outside Thurso. The community radio station Caithness FM also broadcasts to most parts of Orkney.

Language, literature and folklore

The Odin Stone
At the beginning of recorded history the islands were inhabited by the Picts, whose language was Brythonic. The Ogham script on the Buckquoy spindle-whorl is cited as evidence for the pre-Norse existence of Old Irish in Orkney.

After the Norse occupation the toponymy of Orkney became almost wholly West Norse. The Norse language evolved into the local Norn, which lingered until the end of the 18th century, when it finally died out. Norn was replaced by the Orcadian dialect of Insular Scots. This dialect is at a low ebb due to the pervasive influences of television, education and the large number of incomers. However attempts are being made by some writers and radio presenters to revitalise its use and the distinctive sing-song accent and many dialect words of Norse origin continue to be used. The Orcadian word most frequently encountered by visitors is "peedie", meaning "small", which may be derived from the French petit.

Orkney has a rich folklore and many of the former tales concern trow, an Orcadian form of troll that draws on the islands' Scandinavian connections. Local customs in the past included marriage ceremonies at the Odin Stone that forms part of the Stones of Stenness.

The best known literary figures from modern Orkney are the novelists George Mackay Brown and Eric Linklater and the poet Edwin Muir.


An Orcadian is a native of Orkney, a term that reflects a strongly held identity with a tradition of understatement. Although the annexation of the earldom by Scotland took place over five centuries ago in 1472, most Orcadians regard themselves as Orcadians first and Scots second.

When an Orcadian speaks of "Scotland", they are talking about the land to the immediate south of the Pentland Firthmarker. When an Orcadian speaks of "the mainland", they mean Mainland, Orkneymarker. Tartan, clans, bagpipes and the like are traditions of the Scottish Highlands and are not a part of the islands' indigenous culture. However, at least two tartans with Orkney connections have been registered and a tartan has been designed for Sanday by one of the island's residents, and there are pipe bands in Orkney.

Native Orcadians refer to the non-native residents of the islands as "ferry loupers", a term that has been in use for nearly two centuries at least. This designation is celebrated in the Orkney Trout Fishing Association's "Ferryloupers Trophy", suggesting that although it can be used in a derogatory manner, it is more often a light-hearted expression.

Natural history

Orkney has an abundance of wildlife especially of Gray and Common Seals and seabirds such as Puffins, Kittiwakes, Tysties and Bonxies. Whales, dolphins, Otters are also seen around the coasts. Inland the Orkney Vole, a distinct subspecies of the Common Vole is an endemic. There are five distinct varieties, found on the islands of Sanday, Westray, Rousay, South Ronaldsay, and the Mainland, all the more remarkable as the species is absent on mainland Britainmarker.

The coastline is well-known for its colourful flowers including Sea Aster, Sea Squill, Sea Thrift, Common Sea-lavendar, Bell and Common Heather. The Scottish Primrose is found only on the coasts of Orkney and nearby Caithness and Sutherlandmarker.

The North Ronaldsay Sheep is an unusual breed of domesticated animal, subsisting largely on a diet of seaweed.

See also


  1. Haswell-Smith (2004) pp. 336-403.
  2. Wickham-Jones (2007) p. 1 states there are 67 islands.
  3. Haswell-Smith (2004) pp. 334, 502.
  4. Lamb, Raymond "Kirkwall" in Omand 2003) p. 184.
  5. Thompson (2008) p. 220.
  6. Breeze, David J. "The ancient geography of Scotland" in Smith and Banks (2002) pp. 11-13.
  7. "Early Historical References to Orkney" Retrieved 27 June 2009.
  8. Tacitus (c. 98) Agricola. Chapter 10. "ac simul incognitas ad id tempus insulas, quas Orcadas vocant, invenit domuitque".
  9. Waugh, Doreen J. "Orkney Place-names" in Omand (2003) p. 116.
  10. Pokorny, Julius (1959) Indo-European Etymological Dictionary. Retrieved 3 July 2009.
  11. "The Origin of Orkney" Retrieved 27 June 2009.
  12. Thomson (2008) p. 42.
  13. "Hazelnut shell pushes back date of Orcadian site" (3 November 2007) Stone Pages Archaeo News. Retrieved 6 September 2009.
  14. Moffat (2005) p. 154.
  15. Scotland: 2200-800 BC Bronze Age" Retrieved 23 August 2008.
  16. Ritchie, Graham "The Early Peoples" in Omand (2003) p. 32, 34.
  17. Wickham-Jones (2007) p. 73.
  18. Moffat (2005) pp. 154, 158, 161.
  19. Whittington, Graeme and Edwards, Kevin J. (1994) "Palynology as a predictive tool in archeaology" (pdf) Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. 124 pp. 55–65.
  20. Wickham-Jones (2007) p. 74–76.
  21. Ritchie, Graham "The Early Peoples" in Omand (2003) p. 33.
  22. Wickham-Jones (2007) pp. 81-84.
  23. Hogan, C. Michael (2007) Burroughston Broch. The Megalithic Portal. Retrieved 4 October 2009.
  24. Ritchie, Graham "The Early Peoples" in Omand (2003) pp. 35-37.
  25. Crawford, Iain "The wheelhouse" in Smith and Banks (2002) pp. 118-22.
  26. Moffat (2005) pp. 173-5.
  27. Thomson (2008) pp. 4-6.
  28. Ritchie, Anna "The Picts" in Omand (2003) pp. 42-46.
  29. Thomson (2008) pp. 43-50.
  30. Thomson (2008) p. 24.
  31. Thomson (2008) p. 29.
  32. Wenham, Sheena "The South Isles" in Omand (2003) p. 211.
  33. Thomson (2008) pp. 56-58.
  34. Thomson (2008) p. 69. quoting the Orkneyinga Saga chapter 12.
  35. Crawford, Barbara E. "Orkney in the Middle Ages" in Omand (2003) pp. 66-68.
  36. Crawford, Barbara E. "Orkney in the Middle Ages" in Omand (2003) p. 64.
  37. Crawford, Barbara E. "Orkney in the Middle Ages" in Omand (2003) pp. 72-73.
  38. Thomson (2008) pp. 134-37.
  39. Thompson (2008) pp. 146-47.
  40. Thompson (2008) p. 160.
  41. Armit (2006) pp. 173–76.
  42. Thomson (2008) p. 40.
  43. Thompson (2008) p. 183.
  44. Crawford, Barbara E. "Orkney in the Middle Ages" in Omand (2003) pp. 78-79.
  45. Thompson (2008) pp. 371-72.
  46. Smith (2004) pp. 364-65.
  47. Thomson, William P. L. "Agricultural Improvement" in Omand (2003) pp. 93, 99.
  48. Thomson (2008) pp. 434-36.
  49. Thomson (2008) pp. 439-43.
  50. Wenham, Sheena "Modern Times" in Omand (2003) p. 110.
  51. "Orkney Islands" Vision of Britain. Retrieved 21 September 2009. Data is not available for 1851 - 1921.
  52. "Get-a-Map" Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 19 September 2009.
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General references
  • Armit, Ian (2006) Scotland's Hidden History. Stroud. Tempus. ISBN 075243764X
  • Benvie, Neil (2004) Scotland's Wildlife. London. Aurum Press. ISBN 1854109782
  • Ballin Smith, B. and Banks, I. (eds) (2002) In the Shadow of the Brochs, the Iron Age in Scotland. Stroud. Tempus. ISBN 075242517X
  • Clarkson, Tim (2008) The Picts: A History. Stroud. The History Press. ISBN 9780752443928
  • Moffat, Alistair (2005) Before Scotland: The Story of Scotland Before History. London. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0500051337
  • Omand, Donald (ed.) (2003) The Orkney Book. Edinburgh. Birlinn. ISBN 1841582549
  • Thomson, William P. L. (2008) The New History of Orkney. Edinburgh. Birlinn. ISBN 9781841586960
  • Whitaker's Almanack 1991 (1990). London. J. Whitaker & Sons. ISBN 0850212057
  • Wickham-Jones, Caroline (2007) Orkney: A Historical Guide. Edinburgh. Birlinn. ISBN 1841585963

Further reading

  • Fresson, Captain E. E. Air Road to the Isles. (2008) Kea Publishing. ISBN 9780951895894
  • Lo Bao, Phil and Hutchison, Iain (2002) BEAline to the Islands. Kea Publishing. ISBN 9780951895849
  • Warner, Guy (2005) Orkney by Air. Kea Publishing. ISBN 9780951895870

External links

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