Home
 About Orkney
 History
 Tradition
 Folklore
 Placenames
 Images
 Downloads
 About the Site
 Contact 
 Links 
 Search Site 
 Awards
 
  Orkney Placenames

Parish names

St Ola "St Ola" derives from the church of St Olaf, in Kirkwall, which lies at the heart of the parish.
Holm Pronounced "Ham" - a corruption of the Old Norse homn - a "haven" or "good anchorage".

The current spelling is likely due to a clerical error at some point in the past, which confused homn with holmr.
Orphir From the Old Norse orfiri or orfjara - meaning "an outgoing" or "ebbing" . This is found applied to islands joined to the mainland by a reef at low tide. In this case, it refers to the Holm o' Houton, which was probably known at one time as Orfirisey
St Andrews A "recent" name, stemming from the parish church in Tankerness. The parish of St Andrews gathered together a number of geographical units. Today, it is split into two distinct areas - Toab and Tankerness.
 
  • Tankerness - early references give the names Tannskaraness, Tannskaarunes, Tanskernes and, in 1595, Tankerness. It has been suggested that the name refers to the Ness of a man called Tannskári. But this is open to debate.
 
  • Toab: The earliest forms of the name, Tollop, tohope etc, point to the Old Norse toll-hóp - a harbour where visiting ships had to pay toll on arrival or departure.
Deerness Old Norse Dyrnes - "animal ness".
Firth Fjorðr - fjord. The parish stretches out along the shores of the Bay o' Firth, which was originally known as Aurridafjoðr.
Rendall Renna is a name used for streams by severeal Norwegian placenames. Rennu-dálr - literally the "vallery of the Renna".
Evie From the Old Norse efja - which in this case refers to the bight inside the strong tidal current of Evie Sound - Efjusund as it was known in Orkneyinga Saga.
Harray The saga records that the area covered by the modern parishes of Birsay and Harray as Byrgisherað - which translates roughly as the fortress district.

Harray took its name from the last element of that name - herað
Birsay From Byrgisey, meaning "fortress island", referring to the Brough o' Birsay. See Harray above.
Sandwick From Old Norse sand-vik meaning "sand inlet". The bay in question is undoubtedly the Bay o' Skaill.
Stromness From the Old Norse straum-nes, meaning "point protruding into the tidal stream". This "rapid stream" is undoubtedly the turbulent waters of Hoy Sound.
Stenness From the Old Norse Stein - nes. Literally meaning "stone point", this probably refers to the prehistoric megaliths around the Ring o' Brodgar and Stones o' Stenness.
Main Menu

See Also

External Links

Back a page