Zoom into the Orkney Islands

Collated by Alison Leslie.

Orkney, or the Orkney Islands, is a group of 70 islands off the north coast of Scotland. They became part of Scotland in 1469 in lieu of an unpaid dowry from Norway.  Today Orkney is best known for its historic sites, the dive sites around the scuttled World War One German fleet, its birdlife, its food and drink, and the North Ronaldsay sheep who feed on seaweed. 

This is the latest in our fortnightly blog looking at the resources the Library holds for each local authority area. This is not a comprehensive listing of everything we hold about that area but a jumping-off point for further exploration. Staff from across the Library have found interesting, beautiful and fun items to share from our online collections. You will find more across our website, in our Library and at local collections.

Where to find local collections:  Orkney Library & Archive  http://www.orkneylibrary.org.uk/aboutarchive.htm 


Frotoft branch of the Orkney Traills: their relations and connections, with copious notes, genealogical and otherwise by Thomas W. Traill. 1902. [In Histories of Scottish familieshttps://digital.nls.uk/95555261

Records of the Earldom of Orkney, Volume 7 1255-1614, edited by J. Storer Clouston. 1914. [In Scottish History Society Publicationshttps://digital.nls.uk/125885827

Surveys of harbour (common) and grey seals in Orkney, the north coast of Scotland, the Moray Firth and the Firth of Tay in August 2012 by J. Duck and C. Morris. 2013. Scottish Natural Heritage Commissioned Report No.572. https://www.nls.uk/e-monographs/2013/572.pdf 

Film Construction of wind turbine. 1955.  https://movingimage.nls.uk/film/6387

Manuscript  A chart of the Orkney Islands by William Aberdeen. 1769. https://maps.nls.uk/view/74400303

Map Orkney Islands by J.D. Miller. [1880?]  https://maps.nls.uk/view/216442917

Person George Mackay Brown.   The Library holds some of his papers, but only the inventories can be accessed remotely.  https://digital.nls.uk/catalogues/guide-to-manuscript-collections/inventories/acc10372.pdf https://digital.nls.uk/catalogues/guide-to-manuscript-collections/inventories/acc13344.pdf

Music An Orkney Reel. Collection of original strathspeys and reels arranged for piano forte, violin & violincello by D. Mckercher. 1824. [In Glen Collection of printed music] https://digital.nls.uk/special-collections-of-printed-music/archive/118864114

Mythical creature The trows of Orkney. The peat fire flame by Alasdair Alpin MacGregor. 1937. [In The Ossian Collectionhttps://digital.nls.uk/81147739

Castle or other historic building St. Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall. South-east view of St Magnus’ Cathedral. 1818. [In Hutton Drawingshttps://digital.nls.uk/74635546

Food Orkney Cheese  https://www.nls.uk/scotgov/2011/applicationtoregisterthenameorkneyislandcheddar.pdf

Photograph The Old Man of Hoy, Orkney. [In From Shore to Shore learning resource]  https://digital.nls.uk/learning/from-shore-to-shore/locations/north/index.html

County town Handba’ at Kirkwall, Orkney by W. Kirkness. 1939. The Ba game is held between the Uppies and the Doonies each Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. https://movingimage.nls.uk/film/0704

Village or small place Orkney CI.2 (Harray). Ordnance Survey of Scotland 25 inch to 1 mile. 1881. Harray is the only landlocked parish in Orkney.  https://maps.nls.uk/view/75135921

Further reading (in the Library)

The Boy with the Bronze Axe by Kathleen Fidler. 2012. https://search.nls.uk/permalink/f/1jc5lod/44NLS_NPLD_EBK018734488

Fatal passage: the story of John Rae, the Arctic hero time forgot by Kenneth McGoogan. 2012. https://search.nls.uk/permalink/f/sbbkgr/44NLS_NPLD_EBK018504249

The new history of Orkney by William P.L. Thomson. 2008. https://search.nls.uk/permalink/f/1jc5lod/44NLS_ALMA21511375250004341