ORKNEY ISLANDS. 76. Route. 569
unite to elect a member of parliament, though forming a separate
county. Mainland (378 sq. M.; pop. ca. 20,000) is the largest.
The inhabitants of these northern archipelagoes, who pride themselves
upon their Scandinavian origin, stoutly refusing to call themselves Scots,
speak a dialect of English, with, especially in Shetland, an infusion of
Norse words; and they still retain many peculiar manners and customs.
The Udallers, or small landowners ('peerie lairds'), are the only real
freeholders in Scotland. The chief occupations are agriculture and fish¬
ing, the latter of which has recently been largely developed, so that
Shetland is now one of the chief seats of the Scottish herring-fishery.
Shetland hand-knit shawls and hosiery, and Shetland ponies are also
noted. The chief attractions of the islands are the magnificent coast-
scenery, and the brochs or round towers and other prehistoric antiquities,
most abundant in Orkney. Anglers find excellent fishing for sea-trout and
In 875 the Orkneys and Shetlands were conquered by Harold Haarfagr,
and they remained under Scandinavian sway until 1468, when they were
assigned to James III. of Scotland, as a pledge for the dowry of his wife,
Margaret of Denmark, which was never paid. In 1590 when James VI.
married Anne of Denmark, the Danish suzerainty over the islands was
formally relinquished. Sir Walter Scott has made them classic ground
by his 'Pirate'.
The best time for visiting these islands is between the middle of
June and the end of August. A week will be found ample time by the
ordinary tourist. Enquiries as to inns or night-quarters in the northern
parts of the groups should be made beforehand.
1. The Orkney Islands.
The steamer from Scrabster (p. 568) to Stromness crosses the
Pentland Firth, and stops first at (4-5 hrs.) Scapa , on Mainland,
2 M. to the S. of Kirkwall, whence carriages meet the boat.
Stromness (Mason's Arms; Commercial), a picturesque and
prosperous little seaport, with 1900 inhab., on a sheltered bay, was
the birthplace of John Gow, the 'Cleveland' of Scott's 'Pirate', and
of Geo. Stewart, the 'Torquil' of Byron's poem 'The Island'.
Excursions. To the island of *Hoy (Ship Hotel, at Longhope), about
1 day; boat 10s., to the 'Old Man' 15s. The chief points in Hoy are the
fine cliffs on the N. and N.W. coast (including the Old Man of Hoy, an
isolated and conspicuous column of sandstone, 450 ft. high), the Dwarfie
Stone, and Ward Hill (1564 ft.), the highest point in the county. — To
(12 M.) Birsay, via Black Crag (406 ft.), Hole of Rowe, and other fine
points on the W. coast of Mainland. At Birsay are a ruined Palace (16th
cent.), built by a natural son of James V., a broch, and two ruined
churches. — To (14 M.) Kirkwall, see below.
Kirkwall, i.e. 'Church Buy' (Kirkwall; Castle), the capital of
Orkney, is a clean but dull town, with 3925 inhab. and a good
harbour. The "Cathedral of St. Magnus (Norm, and E. E.; adm. Gd.),
founded in 1137 but not completed till 1540, is one of (he three old
Scottish cathedrals that are still in nearly complete preservation.
The chancel, which is used as the parish-church, has a good rose-
window, inserted about 1610. The arcade-work on the walls of
the nave-aisles should be noticed. In the nave are monuments to
William Blaikie (1824-65), the African explorer, and to John Rae
(1813-95), the Arctic traveller. Adjoining are the ruined Bishop's
Palace, in which Haco of Norway died in 1263, and the Earl's