The Pentland Firth is a notorious stretch
of water that separates Orkney from the northern tip of the Scottish mainland.
to be one of the most dangerous stretches of water in the world, it is, and always
has been, a danger to shipping.
folktale not only explains why the Firth is salty, but also neatly explains the
existence of a treacherous whirlpool known as The Swelchie.
were two giantesses named Fenia and Menia who were bond-maids to a Danish king
called Frodi. King Frodi kept the unfortunate pair continually at work turning
a massive magical quern called Grotti that had the power to grind out whatever
it was asked to grind.
So merciless was Frodi
in his demands that the two giantesses rebelled and using the magic quern ground
out an army to free them from their life of slavery. Frodi was killed and Fenia
and Menia sailed away with a sea-rover known as Mysing.
sailing through the Pentland Firth, Mysing asked the giantesses to grind salt
which they did but unfortunately in such quantities that the boat sank near the
island of Stroma creating the whirlpool called The Swelchie.
At the bottom of this whirlpool lies Grotti, turning endlessly and still making
the sea salty."