The Picts and the Martyrs or Did Vikings Kill the Native Population of Orkney and Shetland?

orkney - photo by Jan Reinecke / Flickr

I suspect that the Norse invaders of Orkney and Shetland didn’t just overwhelm’, or ‘submerge’ the native population: I think they killed them.

Vikings in the Prehistoric Landscape: Studies on Mainland Orkney

Orkney and Shetland Blaeu - Atlas of Scotland 1654

Norse colonists in Orkney contended not only with the islands’ existing occupants, but also with a foreign landscape filled with visible ancient monuments. This paper provides a brief synthesis of the results of research on the landscapes of Viking-Age and Late-Norse Orkney which explored the strategies undertaken by the Norse settlers to re-model their social identities in their adopted environment.

A Viking Pacifist? The Life of St Magnus in Saga, Novel, and Opera

The statue of St Magnus of Orkney -  photo by Mike Atherton

Vikings settled in, and ruled, many parts of the British Isles and Ireland, but of these areas only the Norse earldom of Orkney has a whole Icelandic saga devoted to its early history.

The Viking Language of the Highlands and Islands: Reconstructing the Norn Language from Old Norse

Viking carving

The Orkney and Shetland islands of Scotland were at one time colonized by Vikings and belonged firmly within the field of Scandinavian cultural influence. During this time the people of these archipelagos spoke a unique language known as Norn which evolved from the Old Norse language.

The Orkney Islands in the Viking Age

orkney islands

How and when did Orkney become such a key player in the relations between Norway and Scotland? Were the Earls of Orkney a barrier to war between the nations?

Earl Rögnvaldr of Orkney, a Poet of the Viking Diaspora

St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkneys, Scotland - St Rognvald, earl of Orkney - photo by Otter

Kali Kolsson, later Rögnvaldr, Earl of Orkney, ca. 1103–1158, is a truly international figure. He was born in Noway. He travelled to England with some traders in his youth. He then came to power in Northern Scotland.

Vassals or Vikings?: Orkney‘s identity in the changing Norwegian world (1151-1206)

orkney islands

Throughout the Middle Ages, the Jarldom of Orkney and Caithness maintained a fine balance between its geographical proximity to the Scottish mainland and its political and cultural proximity to the kingdom of Norway.

The Stewart Earls of Orkney and the History of Orkney and Shetland

Orkney Islands - Scotland

The Northern Isles have their own national, or at any rate quasi-national, historical tradition. It is quite separate from that of Scotland, though it is clearly connected to it; and it offers parallels to the nineteenth-century growth in historical consciousness elsewhere in the British Isles.

Norse Influences in the Organisation of the Medieval Church in the Western Isles

Norse era construction - St. Magnus Church, Egilsay, Scotland

In its definitive form of a system of local churches serving identifiable districts, usually known as parishes, grouped together under a diocesan bishop, the medieval church cannot be said to have existed in the general area of Scotland until the twelfth century. At this time, and for some three centuries previously, the islands to the north and west, with parts of the adjacent mainland, were under Norse control.

War or Peace? The Relations Between the Picts and the Norse in Orkney

17th Century map of the Orkney Islands

This article will focus mainly on the earliest period of Norse settlement, before the Norse earldom was established.

The Wolf Miracle in Magnuss saga lengri

wolf

The account of the consumption and regurgitation by wolves of a murdered man, before he is revived by Saint Magnus, is to be found at the very end of the series of miracles tales which concludes Magnuss saga lengri

New study to look at Norse farming on the Orkney Isles

17th Century map of the Orkney Islands

A year-long study will begin this fall that will look look at herding economies in the Orkney Isles from the 8th to the 15th century AD.

From Asset in War to Asset in Diplomacy: Orkney in the Medieval Realm of Norway

James III of Scotland & Margaret of Denmark - 1468

This paper looks at how Orkney figured in Norwegian royal strategies in the west and presents key examples which show its transition from a tool of war to a forum for peace.

Orkney’s Terrible Trows

trows - Illustration of Walter Stenström's The boy and the trolls or The Adventure in childrens' anthology Among pixies and trolls, a collection of childrens' stories, 1915.

Trows are fascinating creatures found only in the folklore of the Orkney and Shetland islands. Yet, describing them accurately is difficult because sources are not always clear.

Folklore and the Fin Folk of Orkney

Folklore and the Fin Folk of Orkney

The Orkney Islands possess a folkloric tradition that is both unique and fascinating.

The Orkney Islands

17th Century map of the Orkney Islands

The Islands of Orkney are a mystical place steeped in history and legend. Like the rest of the British Isles, Orkney is an amalgam of influences.

An island archaeological approach to the Viking colonization of the North Atlantic

Vikings in the North Atlantic

The present paper is a brief exploration of the application of methods commonly used in the archaeological study of the Pacific and Mediterranean islands to the expansion of the Vikings across the North Atlantic during the ninth to eleventh centuries AD.

Fish trade in Norse Orkney and Caithness: a zooarchaeological approach

Medieval fishermen

The trade of dried fish played an important role in the transformation from the Viking Age to the Middle Ages in Scandinavian polities such as Arctic Norway.

The role of the feline in the medieval society of the North Atlantic region

cat and mouse in the lutrell psalter

Were the cats utilised specifically for pest control or is there conclusive proof of a creature having been wholly cared for?

A Chieftain in an Old Norse Text: Sveinn Ásleifarson and the Message behind Orkneyinga Saga

Orkneyinga%20Saga

A Chieftain in an Old Norse Text: Sveinn Ásleifarson and the Message behind Orkneyinga Saga By Ian Beuermann Confluence. Interdisciplinary Communications 2007/2008, edited by Willy Østreng (Oslo: Centre for Advanced Study, 2009) Introduction: Icelanders are famous for having produced a huge volume of prose literature in Old Norse in the Middle Ages (in a Nordic […]

Archaeologists meet in Orkney

Skara_Brae  - photo by Wknight94

Scientists and researchers from across northern Europe will gather in Orkney on Thursday to learn how the islands protect their rich archaeological resources from rising seas and winter storms. Orkney is home to some of the most important archaeological sites in Europe and many of these lie beneath the surface of the sea. As a […]

Shetland and Orkney Island-Names – A Dynamic Group

Shetland and Orkney Island-Names – A Dynamic Group By Peder Gammeltoft Northern Lights, Northern Words. Selected Papers from the FRLSU Conference, Kirkwall 2009, edited by Robert McColl Millar (2010) Introduction: Only when living on an island does it become clear how important it is to know one‟s environment in detail. This is no less true […]

Linguistic patterns in the place-names of Norway and the Northern Isles

Linguistic patterns in the place-names of Norway and the Northern Isles By Berit Sandnes Northern Lights, Northern Words. Selected Papers from the FRLSU Conference, Kirkwall 2009, edited by Robert McColl Millar (2010) Introduction: Considering the Vikings’ massive cultural influence on the Northern Isles, the material evidence for Old Norse culture is surprisingly scarce. The buildings […]

Interpreting the Viking Age to Medieval Period Transition in Norse Orkney through Cultural Soil and Sediment Analyses

Interpreting the Viking Age to Medieval Period Transition in Norse Orkney through Cultural Soil and Sediment Analyses By Ian A. Simpson, James H. Barrett, and Karen B. Milek Geoarchaeology: An International Journal, Vol. 20, No. 2 (2005) Abstract: The transition from the Viking Age (ca. A.D. 800–1050) to the Medieval period (ca. A.D. 1050–1500) saw the […]

The Bishop’s Palace at Kirkwall

Bishop's Palace, Kirkwall Ruined palace of the mediaeval Bishops of Orkney. In the background is the spire of St Magnus Cathedral. Photo by Colin Smith

Gives a detailed report on the Bishop’s Palace in Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands, which was built in the 13th century.

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