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  Orkney's 'Teu Neems'

Picture: Cathedral ArchesThe inhabitants of each district in Orkney have their own "teu-neem" or nickname.

Local tradition has it that the nicknames stem from the time of the construction of the St Magnus Cathedral.

They were allocated, it is said, depending upon the provisions the individual detachments of workers brought with them to Kirkwall.

Thus, Papay folk are known as Dundies, the Westray people as Auks.

It is doubtful that this tradition has any basis in truth, as similar nicknames are found in Shetland.

Whatever the origin, from the account of Jo Ben, we can see that at least two existed in the 16th century, and had probably been around for some time before that.

In some cases the teu-neems refer to animals, or birds, particular to the area, for example Hoy Hawks, while others seem to hint at the diets of the specific areas..

Others simply poke fun at, or insult, the parish inhabitants of the unfortunate parishes.

All but a few of the teu-names are forgotten these days.

Towns - Mainland Parishes - North Isles - South Isles

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