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.

Viking Hoard discovered in Scotland

scotland viking hoard

Scottish officials announced today “a hugely significant find” – the discovery of a Viking Hoard in Dumfries. Over 100 artifacts dating back to the 9th and 10th century have been found, including a solid silver cross and a Carolingian pot.

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.

Aberdeen Breviary goes online

aberdeen breviary

A copy of the Aberdeen Breviary, one of the first printed books in Scotland, has been purchased by the National Library of Scotland and is now available to read online.

Marjorie Bruce, Princess of Scotland and mother of the Stewart dynasty of Kings of Scots

Tomb of Marjorie Bruce. Photo by Otter/Wikipedia

Marjorie Bruce, Princess of Scotland, was the only child of the first marriage of King Robert I the Bruce with Isabella of Mar. Marjorie would suffer greatly through the Scottish Wars of Independence, surviving to marry and become the mother of the child who would go on to found the Stewart dynasty of Kings.

The Second Scottish War of Independence, 1332-41: a national war?

David Bruce, king of Scotland, acknowledges Edward III as his feudal lord

While there is no doubt that the second war began in 1332 there is more uncertainty as to when it ended. Unlike the first war, there was no peace treaty between Scotland and England bringing the armed conflict to an end.

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.

Europe and the beginning of Scottish sovereignty

Alexander III

Scotland’s story may have been distinctive, but its experience was not.

What Braveheart did for Scottish Independence

Braveheart battle scene

Twenty years ago support for Scottish independence was confined to a small minority – but the release of the film Braveheart in the spring of 1995 changed their fortunes.

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.

Britain and the beginning of Scotland

Dauvit Broun

In this lecture Professor Dauvit Broun explores recent rethinking on Scottish origins by discussing the role of Britain as an ‘idea’, connections with England, the emergence of Scotland as a country in the 13th century, and the beginnings of the Scottish kingdom itself.

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.

People of Medieval Edinburgh revealed from archaeological research project

Photo courtesy Edinburgh City Council

Five years ago, archaeologists uncovered a graveyard dating back to the Middle Ages in the Scottish city of Edinburgh. Now a research project to analyze almost 400 people who were buried there has revealed new insights into their lives and even how they might have looked like.

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.

Annabella Drummond, Queen of Scotland


Annabella Drummond was married to Robert III, King of Scots. They had the longest duration of a Scottish royal marriage in history

Britain and the Beginning of Scotland

King Cinaed mac Ailpín (Kenneth Mac Alpin - King of the Picts

Until recently it was generally held that Scotland first began to take shape with a union of Picts and Scots under Cinaed mac Ailpín, who died in 858.

What’s the Matter?: Medieval Literary Theory and the Irish Campaigns in The Bruce

Wars of Scottish Independence - 1332, Neville’s Cross

John Barbour’s Bruce, composed in the mid 1370s, is the first long poem in the Scots vernacular. It contains twenty books, the first thirteen of which trace the Wars of Liberty from their origins until triumph at the Battle of Bannockburn. At this point the Irish ‘matter’ enters the poem.

Battlefield tourism: meanings and interpretations

hastings battlefield

Battlefield sites are some of the most iconic locations in any nation’s store of heritage attractions and continue to capture the imagination of visitors. They have strong historic, cultural, nationalistic and moral resonances and speak to people on a national as well as a local scale.

The 700th Anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn

Robert Bruce statue, Bannockburn - photo by Kim Traynor

On June 24, 1314, Scottish and English armies fought the Battle of Bannockburn. Taking place near Stirling Castle in Scotland, the battle saw Robert the Bruce defeat the English ruler Edward II. The victory helped to re-establish Scottish independence from England in the 14th century.

15th-century copy of The Brus restored

The 1487 edition of The Brus, one of the two oldest remaining copies in existence, has been conserved and rebound for research and public display. - Credit: Cambridge Colleges’ Conservation Consortium

One of the oldest copies of The Brus – the epic poem about Robert the Bruce and the Scottish Wars of Independence – has been restored by the University of Cambridge.

Royal and Magnate Bastards in the Later Middle Ages: The View from Scotland

Medieval Children

Theory and Practice in Scotland and Elsewhere Medieval Scotland’s law on bastardy is set out in the lawbook Regiam Majestatem (c.1320)…In England things were different, as Michael Hicks has demonstrated. Admittedly, English heraldic practice eventually followed the French, and the formula ‘X bastard of Y’ is occasionally found for magnates’ bastards.

10th-century Viking king may have been discovered in Scotland

These may be the remains of King Olaf Guthfrithsson - photo from Historic Scotland

These might be the remains of Olaf Guthfrithsson, King of Dublin and Northumbria from 934 to 941.

The Unfortunate James I, King of Scots

King James I of Scotland

James Stewart I, King of Scots had an unusual reign in many ways. His rule began while he was a prisoner of King Henry IV of England. And his rule certainly ended in a tumultuous and violent manner.

Top 10 Medieval Castles in Scotland

top 10 medieval castles of Scotland - Eilean Donan

Interested in visiting a medieval castle in Scotland? Here is our picks for the 10 best Scottish castles that date from the Middle Ages.

New Project to look at Medieval Miracles in the British Isles

Miracle from the Life of St. Cuthbert

A team of researchers from the University of Cambridge have started creating an online database to categorize the miracles found in saints’ lives that were written in Britain and Ireland between 500 and 1300.

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