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  Jo Ben's 1529 "Descriptions of Orkney"


Hoy, here is a very large mountain* expanding indeed from the land in equal altitude three miles, where there is no ascent. There is another sublime mountain not so high, between which there is a stone worthy of admiration**.

It is large and high, being constructed by a giant and his wife.

One stone is hollowed out, in which a bed (or beds) is artfully made in the stone for the man and wife; at the time of the hollowing out of the stone the woman was pregnant, as the bed testifies, for that part of the bed where the woman lay bears the resemblance of a pregnant belly. In the stone a pillow was made with two hollows in the raised part of the stone; nevertheless, they are not joined by any cementing matter, but is one.

The doorway has a stone for blocking it; who made this I know not.

A story is told that another giant had a dislike to this one, therefore he fashioned a stone the length and breadth of the doorway to shut them up, so that they might perish with hunger, and then he himself ruling the island might have the stone for his own use.

At length he conveyed the prepared stone to the summit of the mountain, hurled it down with all the strength of his arms, like a dart, and with envy at the other's prosperity, fastened it into the doorway. The imprisoned giant, watching attentively, was in great danger.

Unable to escape otherwise, he made a hole in the roof with his hammer, through which he got out, if the story is worthy of credit.

In this island birch trees grow, and not in the others, for the other islands are without trees. White hares are here and are captured with dogs.

Here is abundance of birds, in the language of the place Lyris, of fishes, and of other winged fowl. Here likewise are gold mines, lead mines, iron mines, and very many other good things.

* - Ward Hill.
** - The Dwarfie Stane.

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