tale that follows is not found in "common" Orkney folklore but I chanced
across it as a child in a book of fairytales.
is certainly based on an episode recounted within the Orkneyinga
Saga, concerning the Earls Paul the Silent and Harald Smooth-Tongue, the
sons of Earl Hakon, the murderer of St
There is no mention in the saga
version of the Lady Morna, who it would appear, has been added at a later date
to provide the "love interest" common in all good fairy stories. The
Countess Fraukirk, on the other hand, is a variant of "Frakkok", Harald's
aunt and sister to Helga Moddan's-daughter, Hakon's mistress.
is no mention either of the tales main character, the evil dwarf Snorro. Although
the episode involving the poisoned shirt does appear in the saga, in it we are
left to wonder about the origin of the poisoned material.
read the Orkneyinga Saga's Version of the events, click
Ward Hill's mythical gemstone
element found within the tale that parallel's local folklore is the existence
of an "enchanted carbuncle" - a mythical gemstone found somewhere on
the slopes of Ward Hill. For more details of this legend, see the page
dealing with the Dwarfie Stane.
I suspect what we have
here is a variant or retelling of the old Orkney tale that has made its way to
the Scottish mainland, possibly with migrating Orcadians, where, over time, elements
of history were mixed with pure fantasy to produce the fairy-tale we have today.
the original version of the fairy-tale there are some incorrect references made
that would not appear had this version been recorded by an Orcadian - for example,
the story referring to "Pomona" as a "place on the mainland".
"Pomona" is actually an erroneous other name used on maps to represent
the entire Orkney Mainland. Click here for
more details of this.
The derivation of "Wart"
as in "Wart Hill" is also incorrect - see origin of Ward Hill placenames
in the sidebar of the Wideford
Hill cairn page for more details - although this was indeed once the name
of Hoy's "Ward Hill".
here to read The Tale of Snorro the Dwarf.