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  The History of the Orkney Islands

"The Orkney Imagination is haunted by time"
George Mackay Brown

Photo montage Sigurd TowrieThe Orkney Islands have a long and colourful history. It is no exaggeration to say that the isles are a place where this history remains a part of everyday life.

Every corner of the islands has its ancient monuments, most of them in a remarkable state of repair.

For thousands of years, people have lived and worked in Orkney.

From the stone age Orcadians, who left a legacy of monuments that continue to inspire today, through to the Vikings, who took the islands in the ninth century and made them the centre of a powerful Earldom and part of the kingdom of Norway, and beyond.

The Orkney islands are covered with monuments that stand as constant reminders of the events and people that have gone before.

Houses and tombs dating back 5,000 years share the landscape with Bronze Age cemeteries, standing stones, 2,000 year old brochs, viking ruins, medieval churches and Renaissance palaces.

Our history is therefore not something that exists only in schoolbooks, or in the thoughts of academics.

Orkney's history and heritage is everywhere - an intricate tapestry of events stitched into the very fabric of the islands themselves. Orcadians have a connection with this history - events that were witnessed by their ancestors many generations ago.

The past is alive and remains part of everyday life, albeit unconsciously.


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See Also

Orkney's World Heritage Site
Papers and Pictures in honour of Daphne Lorimer

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