Orkney, a group of islands and islets of the eastern part of the N-coast of Scotland, and forming a division of the county of Orkney and Shetland. The group, which is separated from the mainland of Scotland by the Pentland Firth, contains 28 inhabited islands, 39 smaller islands used for grazing purposes, locally known as holms, and a large number of waste rocky islets or skerries. The island extends from N latitude 58° 44' * (Brough Ness at the S end of South Ronaldsay) to N latitude 59 23 40" (Point of Sinsoss in the N of North Ronaldsay), and from W latitude 2 22' 34" (Start Point in Sanday) to W latitude 3 26' 22" (Rora Head at the W end of Hoy). The distance in a straight line from Point of Sinsoss SSW to Brough Ness in South Ronaldsay is 50 miles, or SSW by S to Tor Ness in Hoy is 53½ miles, and the greatest width of the group is from Burgh Head in Stronsay on the E to Outshore Point midway between Marwick Head and Bay of Skaill on the W side of Pomona on the W, a distance of 29½ miles. The islands are divided into three groups. The first, nearest the mainland, is known as the South Isles, and comprises the large islands of Hoy (W) and South Ronaldsay (E) and the smaller ones that surround them. To the N of Hoy is Graemsay, NE is Risa, and E are Flotta and South Walls. To the N of South Ronaldsay and separated from it by Water Sound is Burray with the smaller islands of Glimps Holm and Hunda; on the S are the Pentland Skerries, and SE is Swona. The water space between Hoy and South Walls is the well-known anchorage of Long Hope. The passage between Fara and Flotta is Weddel Sound, and between Flotta and Switha is Switha Sound. The passage between Flotta and South Ronaldsay is the Sound of Hoxa. The South Isles are separated from the mainland by the Pentland Firth, the distance across which, from Dunnet Head to Tor Ness (Hoy), is 77/8 miles, from St John's Point to Tarff Tail (Swona) 6¾ Miles, and from Duncansbay Head to Brough Ness (South Ronaldsay) 6½ miles. The second group lies to the N of those just described, and consists of Pomona or the Mainland-the principal island in the Orkneys, containing nearly half the entire area and more than half the whole population-and the smaller islands to the NE. The deep sweep of Kirkwall Bay on the N and Scapa Bay on the S [see Kirkwall] narrows Pomona at one point so that it is divided into two parts of unequal size, that to the W being the larger. Off the NE coast of this larger portion are the islands of Rousay-with the smaller islands of Egilsay (E), Viera (SE), and Eynhallow (SW)-and Gairsay with Sweyn Holm; off the S coast, but nearer Hoy, is the small island of Cava. To the N of the smaller eastern portion is Shapinsay with Helliar Holm; to the SE is Copinsay with the Horse of Copinsay and Corn Holm; to the S is the small Lamb Holm. This the Mainland group is separated from the NE of Hoy by Hoy Sound; from the E- of Hoy, and from Fara, Flotta, and the NW of South Ronaldsay, by Scapa Flow; and from Burray by Holm Sound. The third group lies NE of the Mainland islands, and consists of Westray, Eday, and Stronsay in a line from NW to SE, with Papa Westray to the NE of Westray; Sanday NE of Eday, and North Ronaldsay still farther to the NE. To the E of Papa Westray is the small Holm of Huip, NE of Eday is the Calf of Eday, SW of it are Muckle and Little Green Holms, and W of it are Fara and Holm of Fara. To the N of Stronsay is Holm of Huip, NE is Papa Stronsay, S is Auskerry, W is Linga Holm, and NW-is Little- Linga. This group is known as the North Isles, and sometimes Ronsay and Shapinsay are included in it. Westray and Eday are separated from Rousay and Egilsay by the Westray Firth (varying from 4 to 8 miles wide), and the portion of sea E of Shapinsay and SW of Stronsay is known as Stronsay Firth. Westray is separated from Papa Westray by Papa Sound (1½ mile), and from Holm of Fara by Rapness Sound (1¼ mile) and Weatherness Sound (3 furl.). Eday is separated from Fara by Sound of Fara (varying from 1 to 1½ mile), from Muckle Green Holm by Fall of Warness (1¼ mile), from Calf of Eday by Calf Sound (½ mile), and from the SW of Sanday by Eday Sound (1¾ mile) and Lashy Sound (at Calf of Eday, 1 mile). Stronsay is separated from Linga Holm by Linga Sound (½ mile), from Auskerry by Ingale Sound (2½ miles), from Papa Stronsay by Papa Sound (½ mile), from Holm of Huip by Huip Sound (½ mile); and between Holm of Huip and the SW end of Sanday is Spurness Sound (1¾ mile). The sea N of Eday, between Westray and Sanday, is known as the North Sound; while along the S coast of Sanday, between that island and Stronsay, is Sanday Sound (4½ miles at narrowest point), and between Sanday and North Ronaldsay is the North Ronaldsay Firth (2 miles 3 furlongs at the narrowest part). Except along the cliffs of the southern and western sides the coast-line of all the islands is extremely irregular, there being everywhere numerous deep bays. Of these the chief are Long Hope, near the SE end of Hoy; Pan Hope in Flotta; Widewall Bay on the W side, and St Margaret's Hope in the N end, of South Ronaldsay; Echnaloch Bay in the NW of Burray; Bay of Ireland and Scapa Bay on the S side of Pomona; Bay of Firth and Bay of Kirkwall opening off the Wide Firth, Bay of Meil and Inganess Bay opening off Shapinsay Sound, and Deer Sound farther E, all in Pomona; Veantrow Bay on the N side of Shapinsay; Saviskaill Bay on the N side of Rousay; Bay of Pierowall on the E side of Westray, opposite the S end of Papa Westray; Bay of Tuquoy on the S side of Westray; Fersness Bay on the W coast of Eday; St Catherine's Bay on the W coast, Bay of Holland on the S coast, Odin Bay and Mill Bay on the E coast, of Stronsay; North Bay on the W coast, Backaskaill Bay, Kettletoft Bay, Cat-a-Sand, and Lopness- Bay on the S coast, Scuthvie Bay on the E coast, and OttersWick Bay on the N coast, of Sanday; and Linklet Bay in North Ronaldsay. The surface of the islands lies low, and, except Hoy, none of them can be called hilly. The general rise is from NE to SW, a height of 333 feet being reached at the Ward Hill at the S end of Eday; 880 at the Ward Hill in the SW of the Mainland, midway between Bay of Ireland and Scapa Bay; and 1420 at Cuilags, 1564 at the Ward Hill, and 1308 at Knap of Trewieglen, the three highest points in Hoy and in the whole group of islands. Except in the Pentland Firth, where the depth of the sea reaches 40 fathoms, the water in the straits between the islands and in their immediate neighbourhood is nowhere deeper than 20 fathoms. A rise of 120 feet in the seabottom would unite the whole group, except Swona-and the pentland Skerries, into one mass of land, which would be separated from the mainland of Scotland by a strait from 2 to 3 miles broad where the Pentland Firth is, with a long pointed projection passing by Swona through the Sound of Hoxa into Scapa Flow, a little beyond Roan Head, at the NE corner of Flotta; and from this a narrow strait, about a mile wide, would pass along the SW side of Hoy. If these sounds are, however, of moderate depth, their number and the broken and winding outline of the coast are evidences of the hard struggle that constantly takes place between the land and the Atlantic surge. ` The intricate indented coast-line, worn into creeks and caves, and overhanging cliffs; the crags and skerries, and sea stacks, once a part of the solid land, but now isolated among the breakers; the huge piles of fragments that lie on the beach, or have been heaped far up above the tide-mark, tell only too plainly how vain is the resistance, even of the hardest rocks, to the onward march of the ocean. The rate of waste along some parts of these islands is so rapid as to be distinctly appreciable within a human lifetime. Thus the Start Point of Sanday was found by Mr Stevenson, in 1816, to be an island every flood tide; yet even within the memory of some old people then alive, it had formed one continuous tract of firm ground. Nay, it appears that during the 10 years previous to 1816, the channel had been worn down at least 2 feet. ' Through these narrow sounds the tidal wave, rushing along with a speed varying from 4 miles an hour at neap to 12 miles an hour at spring tides (the latter being the speed it is said to attain in the Pentland Firth), causes currents and eddies that everywhere require the greatest skill and care in their navigation, and that become in stormy weather, often for days and sometimes even for weeks, quite impassable. ' With such tideways, the slightest inequality in the bottom produces a ripple on the surface, increasing in places to the dangerous whirlpools called rösts or roosts, which have, in the case of the Pentland Firth, so long given it a bad name amongst mariners. What those rösts are, especially when a flood spring is met dead on end by a gale from the opposite quarter, only those who have seen them or similar tidal-races can realise. .. In August 1858, three fishermen named Hercus, whilst saith-fishing, were sucked into the Bore of Papa, as a dangerous roost to the north of Papa Westray is called, and drowned; and probably many instances could be cited of similar accidents, though, owing to the Orcadians being compelled to study the run and set of the tides, not so many as might be expected. Some few years back [in 1874], when the Channel Fleet were in the north, they attempted to pass to the westward through Westray Firth in the teeth of a strong spring flood, but all the Queen's horse-power, and all the Queen's men could not do it, and they had to turn tail. ' Tradition accounts for at least one of those roosts in a highly satisfactory manner, but leaves it doubtful wether the others are mere sympathetic outbreaks, or are not worth accounting for. Off the north-western corner of the island of Stroma, in the Pentland Firth, on the coast of, and in the county of, Caithness, is a dangerous whirlpool called the Swelkie, and connected with it is the following story:-` A certain King Fródi possessed a magical quern or hand-mill, called " Grotti, " which had been found in Denmark, and was the largest quern ever know. Grotti, which ground gold or peace for King Fródi, as he willed, was stolen by a sea-king called Mysing, who set it to grind white salt for his ships. Whether Mysing, like many another purloiner of magicworking implements, had only learned the spell to set it going, and did not know how to stop it, is not stated. Anyhow, his ships became so full of salt that they sank, and Grotti with them. Hence the Swelkie. As the water falls through the eye of the quern, the sea roars, and the quern goes on grinding the salt, which gives its saltness to the ocean.
* The Pentland Skerries. which are held to belong to Orkney. are still farther S, the latitude of the Little Skerry being 58° 40' 30".
The scenery of the Orkneys is somewhat tame. ` The Orkney Islands, ' says Dr Archibald Geikie, ` are as tame and as flat as Caithness. But in Hoy they certainly make amends for their generally featureless surface. Yet even there it is not the interior, hilly though it be, but the western coast cliffs which redeem the whole of the far north of Scotland from the charge of failure in picturesque and impressive scenery. One looks across the Pentland Firth and marks how the flat islands of the Orkney group rise from its northern side as a long low line until westwards they mount into the rounded heights of Hoy, and how these again plunge in a range of precipices into the Atlantic. Yellow and red in hue, these marvellous cliffs gleam across the water as if the sunlight always bathed them. They brighten a grey day, and grey days are only too common in the northern summer; on a sunny forenoon, or still better on a clear evening, when the sun is sinking beneath the western waters, they glow and burn, yet behind such a dreamy sea-born haze that the onlooker can hardly believe himself to be in the far north, but recalls perhaps memories of Capri and Sorrento and the blue Mediterranean. ' Inland from this coast-line is the highest ground in the islands, and there are hilly, though less rugged, districts in Rousay (sometimes called the Orcadian Highlands), and in the western parts of the Mainland and of Eday, but these grassy or heath-clad heights, with the rounded outlines and undulating character seemingly inseparably associated with the Old Red Sandstone formation, have but little of the picturesque, a want still further increased by the utter absence of wood. This last often altogether removes or at least conceals bareness of outline; but though trees of considerable size must once have existed all over the islands, none-except those mentioned at Kirkwall and a few others in sheltered situations, and these of small size-are now able to withstand the force of the violent winter winds, which shake such as may be planted round and round, till the roots are slackened and fatally injured, and the plant dies. Although, however, the low-lying land and the green or brown softly-swelling heights, unrelieved by any wood, are apt to become somewhat monotonous-a monotony that also exists along the coasts, which generally lie low, except where, on the W and S, they present long lines of cliff to the sea-there are times that the islands present features of great beauty, a beauty which is, however, almost always associated with the constant presence of water, often of the sea, with all the sense of power which that presence gives. It is almost impossible to get out of sight of either lochs or the sea, from which, indeed, no place in Orkney is more than five miles distant, and most places very much less; and in calm bright weather, with strong sunlight casting a glow over the low rounded islands, shrouding them in a soft haze, and sparkling on the ripples that dance along the sounds or on the white waves that break on the beach of some quiet bay or at the foot of some lofty range of cliffs, the islands present views of soft and quiet beauty which is almost entirely their own. ` In calm weather the sea, landlocked by the islands, resembles a vast lake, clear and bright as a mirror, and without a ripple, save from the gentle impulse of the tide. Here a bluff headland stands out in bold relief against the horizon; there the more distant islet is lost in sea and sky; on one side a shelving rock sends out a black tongue-like point, sharp as a needle, losing itself in the water, where it forms one of those reefs so common among the islands, and so fatal to strangers, but which every Orkney boatman knows, as we do the streets of our native town; while on the other side a green holm, covered with cattle and ponies, slopes gently to the water's edge. Then there is the dovetailing and intercrossing of one point with another, the purple tints of the islands, the deep blue of the sea, the indentations of the coast, the boats plying their oars or lingering lazily on the waters, the white sails of the pleasure yachts contrasting with the dark brown canvas of the fishing craft, and here and there a large merchant vessel entering or leaving the harbour;-all these combine to make a lovely picture, in which the additional ornament of trees is not missed. You feel that trees here would be out of their element. In calm weather they are not needed, in a storm they would seem out of place. Any one who has seen an Orkney sunset in June or July tracing its diamond path across island reef, and tideway, must confess that it is scarcely possible to suggest an addition to its beauty. ' (See Fernieherst.) One has, however, to see the hilly districts in the midst of thick driving mists, or the narrow tideways during a storm, to be able to appreciate thoroughly all the grandeur which the district is capable of assuming, and the truth of the sailor-poet Vedder's description of his fatherland, when he speaks of it as a
Land of the whirlpool,torrent,foam,
Where oceans meet in madd'ning shock;
The beetling cliffthe shelving holm,
The dark insidious rock.
Land of the bleak,the treeless moor,
The sterile mountain, sered and riven,
The shapeless cairn, the ruined tower,
Scathed by the Bolts of heaven,
The yawning. gulf,the treacherous sand,
The roaring flood,the rushing stream,
The promontory wild and bare,
The pyranid, where sea-birds scream,
aloft in middle air.
'If, however,' says Dr Clouston of Sandwick, in Anderson's Guide to the Highlands, ` the tourist has the good fortune to be in Orkney during a storm, he will cease to regret the absence of some of the softer and more common beauties of landscape in the contemplation of the most sublime spectacle which he ever witnessed. By repairing at such a time to the weather shore, particularly if it be on the W side of the country, he will behold waves, of the magnitude and force of which he could not have previously formed any adequate conception, tumbling across the Atlantic like monsters of the deep, their heads erect, their manes streaming in the wind,- roaring and foaming as with rage, till each discharges such a Niagara flood against the opposing precipices as makes the rocks tremble to their foundations, while the sheets of water that immediately ascend, as if from artillery, hundreds of feet above their summits, deluge the surrounding country, and fall like showers on the opposite side of the island. All the springs within a mile of the weather coast are rendered brackish for some days after such a storm. Those living half a mile from the precipice declare that the earthen floors of their cots are shaken by the concussion of the waves. Rocks that two or three men could not lift are washed about, even on the tops of cliffs which are between 60 and100 feet above the surface of the sea when smooth, and detached masses of rock of an enormous size are well known to have been carried a considerable distance between low and high water mark. Having visited the west crags some days after a recent storm, the writer found sea insects abundant on the hills near them, though about 100 feet high; and a solitary limpet, which is proverbial for its strong attachment to its native rock, but which also seemed on this occasion to have been thrown up, was discovered adhering to the top of the cliff, 70 feet above its usual position.' Short storms of great violence are not the worst, being surpassed by the long continuance of an ordinary gale, and during great storms the devastation and ruin is very great. During a particularly severe storm in 1862, in Stroma (in Caithness), in the Pentland Firth, the sea swept right over the N end of the island, rose bodily up the vertical cliffs at the W end, lodged fragments of wreckage, stones, seaweed, etc., on the top, 200 feet above ordinary sea-level, and then rushed in torrents across the island, tearing up the ground and rocks in their course towards the opposite side.
As in Caithness and the Hebrides, one of the peculiar features of the Orkneys is the immense number of lochs scattered everywhere about, and some of them of considerable size. Of these the principal are the lochs of Stenness, Harris, Boardhouse, Swannay, Hundland, Isbister, Banks, Sabiston, Skaill, Clumly, Bosquoy, and Kirbister in the western portion of the Mainland; Loch of Tankerness in the eastern part of the Mainland; Heldale Water and Hoglinns Water in Hoy; MuckleWater, Peerie Water, and Loch of Wasbister in Rousay; Loch of St Tredwell in Papa Westray; Loch Saintear and Swartmill Loch in Westray; Meikle Water in Stronsay; and Bea Loch, Longmay Loch, and North Loch in Sanday. The total loch area is probably nearly 20, 000 acres. In most of the lochs the fishing is free, and even in those that are Preserved, permission to fish is not very difficult to obtain. Formerly the fishing in most of the lochs and the streams connected with them was poor, and the number and size of the trout was small, as otters and other illegal methods of fishing were largely employed, but since Orkney was erected into a fishery district in 1881, matters have been much improved. The net season of the district is from 25 Fe. to 9 Sept., and the rod season from 25 Feb. to 31 Oct.
The land area of the islands is 375.7 square miles or 240, 476 acres. Inclusive of skerries the total number of islands and islets is 90, but of these only 40 are of any size, and only 28 are inhabited all the year round, while a few others are temporarily inhabited during the summer months only. The inhabited islands, with their populations in 1871 and 1881, are as follows:Auskerry (6; 8), Burray (661; 685), Cava (22; 25), Copinsay (6; 5), Eday (822; 730), Egilsay (163; 165), Fara (Eday 53; 68), Fara (Hoy 83; 72), Flotta (423; 425), Gairsay (34; 37), Graemsay (250; 236), Holm (6; 8), Hoy (1385; 1380), Hunda (5; 8), Kirkholm (7; 0) Lamb Holm (7; 8), Mainland (16, 541; 17,165), Papa- Stronsay (32; 23), Papa Westray (370; 345), Pentland Skerries (14; 17), North Ronaldsay (539; 547), South Ronaldsay (2501; 2557), Rousay (860; 873), Sanday (2053; 2082), Shapinsay (949; 947), Stronsay (1267; 1274), Swona (47; 47), Westray (2090; 2200) and Viera or Wire (78; 80).
Partly owing to their situation and partly owing to the influence of the Gulf Stream, the Orkneys have a much more equable temperature throughout the year than in most places on the mainland of Great Britain, the total average range of temperature being about 16, I while at Thurso the range is 20í, at Leith 22í, and at London 25í. In this respect the Islands resemble the SW coast of England and the W coast of Ireland. The influence exerted by the temperature of the sea is shown by the fact that the coldest month is not as in the other parts of the kingdom, January, but March, í when the mean average temperature is about 28.5. The warmest month is August, when the mean average temperature is 54.5, and in this point again the agreement is with the SW of England and the W of Ireland, July being the warmest month elsewhere. The mean annual temperature is about 45, and the average annual rainfall 34.3 inches, which is less than might be supposed. There is but little frost and less snow, and never any great continuance of either. The heaviest rains and the most prevalent and strongest winds are from the SW and SE. Winds between the NW and NE are cold but dry and healthy, and though they prevail during spring and sometimes till past the middle of June and check the progress of vegetation, they have not the piercing quality that is so often felt in the spring winds along the E coast of Scotland. Calms are of short duration, and changes of weather are very sudden. Fogs are somewhat frequent during summer and the early part of autumn, and come on and disperse quickly. The few thunder-storms that occur happen mostly in winter, during high winds and continued falls of rain or snow. The spring is cold and late; the summer, though short, is remarkable for the rapidity with which growth takes place; and the winter is in general a steady series of high winds, heavy rains. and ever-varying storms. Owing to the latitude the evenings in summer are long, and when fine, form the greatest charm of the season. At the longest day the sun rises at 2 minutes past 3, and sets at 23 minutes past 9, and even after he has sunk he leaves his glory behind in the bright glow that lies along the northern horizon, tinging the sky with hues of yellow and green that cannot be described but need to be seen. For a month at this time the light is so strong all night l through that small print may be read without difficulty. At the shortest day the sun rises at 10 minutes past 9 o'clock and sets at 17 minutes past 3, but the long nights are often lit up by brilliant displays of aurora borealis. Seals of different species abound, and the walrus has been seen about the coast on different occasions, but they were merely stray specimens that had wandered too far S. Herds of the ca'ing whale are numerous, and large numbers of them often run themselves ash ore, while examples of almost all the other species of whales are from time to time seen and occasionally captured. The list of birds is long, including no fewer than 236 species. It includes all the British birds of prey, except the rough-legged buzzard, the bee hawk, and the orange-legged falcon. Rooks have settled in large numbers in recent years, and starlings are everywhere very numerous. Grouse are lighter in colour than those of the mainland, but are plump and well conditioned. Ptarmigan, which used to be found in Hoy, are now exterminated. There are nearly 400 species of native plants, including the rare variety of the adder's-tongue fern, ophioglossum vulgatum var. ambiguum, which is found only here and in the Scilly Islands; the horned pond-weed, zannichellia polyearpa, in the Loch of Kirbister in Orphir parish; carex fulva var. sterilis, also in Orphir; ruppia spiralis, in the Loch of Stenness; and ruppia rostellata var. nana, in Firth.
Geology.The Orkney islands are composed of strata belonging mainly to the Old Red Sandstone formation. On the Mainland there is a small area occupied by ancient crystalline rocks on which the members of the Old Red Sandstone rest unconformably. They extend from Stromness W to Inganess, and they are prolonged S into the island of Graemsay. Consisting of fine grained granite and grey micaceous flaggy gneiss, these rocks must evidently be grouped with the great series of metamorphic rocks of the Highlands of Scotland. They represent part of the old land surface, which rose above the sea-level at the beginning of the Lower Old Red Sandstone Period.
In the island of Hoy there is a remarkable development of the Upper Old Red Sandstone, but in all the other islands the strata belong to the lower division of that formation. Beginning with the representatives of the lower division, we find that a great synclinal fold traverses the Orcadian group from Scapa Flow N by Shapinsay to the island of Eday, the centre of which is occupied by a series of course siliceous sandstones and marls, with bands of conglomerate containing pebbles of quartzite, gneiss, and granite. In the island of Eday this arenaceous series rests conformably on the flagstones which cover such wide areas on the Mainland and the other islands, but when we pass S to the Mainland it is observable that the massive sandstones are brought into conjunction with the flagstones by two powerful faults.
A traverse across the N islands from Westray to Eday, and thence to Sanday, reveals the order of succession of the strata. The island of Westray is composed of well-bedded rusty flags, which along the W shore are gently inclined to the W, while on the cliffs in the SE- part of the island they dip to the ESE. The hills display those characteristic terraced slopes which are so typical of the flagstones when they are inclined at gentle angles. The islands of Fara Holm and Fara, situated between Westray and Eday, consist also of flagstones with a similar ESE dip, and these beds are continued in Eday along the W coast, between Fara's Ness and Seal Skerry. It follows therefore that we have a gradual ascending series from the SE headlands of Westray to the W coast of Eday. The strata in the latter island form a syncline, the axis of which runs approximately N and S. Hence the same beds reappear on opposite shores, rising from underneath the massive siliceous sandstones, which form the smooth flowing hills in the centre of Eday. The gradual transition from the flagstones to the overlying arenaceous series is admirably displayed on the beach at Kirk of Skail and on the S side of Lonton Bay on the E coast. From the grey calcareous flagstones at the base there is a gradual passage through hard white sandstone, red shales, and flagstones to the massive red and yellow sandstones. Similarly on the W coast, between Fara's Ness and the sandy bay lying to the E of that promontory, there is clear evidence of the alternation of the sandstones and flags at the base of the arenaceous series.
The members of the arenaceous series are repeated in the island of Sanday, partly by faults and partly by undulations of the strata. They occupy a strip of ground, about 1 mile broad, between Spur Ness and Quoy Ness. At the former locality they are abruptly truncated by a N and S fault, which brings them into con junction with the underlying flagstones, while near the latter promontory they graduate downwards into the flagstones. Again in the SE portion of Shapinsay a small portion of the arenaceous series is met with, which to the S of Kirkton is separated from the flagstones by a small fault, but from the marked alternations of sandstones and flags exposed on the coast, there can be little doubt that the strata mark the base of the massive sandstones. This small patch of the arenaceous series is invested with considerable interest from the fact that they are associated with diabase lavas indicating contemporaneous volcanic action. At no other locality in Orkney have traces of bedded lavas or tuffs been found in the Lower Old Red Sandstone. These diabase lavas are exposed on the coast between Haco's Ness and Foot, whence they can be followed for about half a mile, exhibiting the vesicular amygdaloidal characters of true lava flows. The microscopic examination of this rock reveals the presence of a considerable quantity of altered olivine associated with plagioclase felspar, augite, and magnetite.
Attention has already been directed to the fact that, on the Mainland, the sandstones and marls which form the highest members of the Lower Old Red Sandstone in Orkney are separated from the flagstones by two powerful faults. The dislocation bounding the arenaceous series towards the NW can be traced from Orphir Kirk to Smoogra Bay, and thence by Scapa Bay to Inganess Head. The effect of this main fault is admirably seen near the quarry, on the W side of Scapa Bay, where it is accompanied by a minor dislocation. Again, the fault truncating the series on the E side runs nearly parallel with the coast from Howquoy Head by Scapa to Inganess Bay. From Kirkwall NW to the headlands of Birsa, the flagstones roll with gentle undulations, rising into terraced hills on the mocry ground N of Loch Stenness. Similarly they spread over the E part of the island, between Inganess Bay and Deer Ness.
In the minor islands composing the S group, viz., Cava, Fara, Flotta, Burray, and South Ronaldsay, the strata consist of alternations of flagstones with red and yellow sandstones and red marls, resembling the beds at the base of the arenaceous series already described. From the manner in which the strata in these various islands are inclined towards Scapa Flow, it is obvious that the latter must occupy the centre of a synclinal trough, and that the synclinal fold is gradually dying out towards the S.
The Orcadian flagstones have yielded fish remains, crustaceans, and plants, but no fossils have been obtained from the arenaceous series, which occupies the centre of the great synclinal fold. From the flagstones near Stromness, Hugh Miller exhumed the specimen of Asterolepis referred to in The Footprints of the Creator. One of the best fossiliferous localities is on the shore of the Mainland near Skail, and still another occurs in Brakness Bay, W of Stromness.
The representatives of the Upper Old Red Sandstone are only to be found in Hoy, where they form one of the noblest cliffs in the British islands. This elevated tableland, rising in isolated peaks to a height of 1400 feet, has been carved into a series of narrow valleys, which, during the glacial period, nourished local glaciers. In some respects the Upper Old Red Sandstone of Hoy resembles lithologically the conformable arenaceous series of the lower division. The beds have the same massive false-bedded character, and the sandstones are frequently interstratified with red marls and shales. But there is one important difference in the relations which they respectively bear to the underlying flagstones. In Hoy the sandstones of Upper Old Red Age are underlaid by a platform of bedded -lavas and ashes, which rest with a marked unconformity on the underlying flagstones, whereas the Eday sandstones, as already indicated, graduate downwards into the flagstones. The volcanic rocks lying at the base of the great pile of massive sandstones are admirably exposed on the cliff on the NW side of the island, from the Kaim of Hoy to the Old Man, and they are traceable round the slopes of the Hoy and Cuilags Hills. At the latter locality the volcanic rocks comprise three lava flows with interbedded tuffs; but when they are traced S along the sea cliff towards the Old Man they gradually thin out till they are represented only by one bed of amygdaloidal porphyrite. It is evident, therefore, that some of the centres of eruption must have been situated in the NE part of the island from the increased thickness of the beds in that direction. There are some indications of the centres of eruption still to be found in that region. These ` necks, ' which are filled with coarse volcanic agglomerate, are situated between the Kaim of Hoy and Quoy Bay.
The unconformable relation between the members of the upper and lower division may be studied along the sea cliff on the NW side of the island, but perhaps one of the most favourable localities is at the base of the Old Man. Owing to the flagstones being inclined at a higher angle than the members of the upper division, the sheet of amygdaloidal porphyrite spreads over the edges of the flagstones, while the porphyrite is overlaid by an enormous pile of red and yellow sandstones. Several dykes of basalt traverse the Old Red Sandstone of Orkney. Some of the best examples occur on the shore of the Mainland between Brakness and Skail, while others are exposed on the beach near Orphir. The glacial phenomena of Orkney are rather remarkable, partly on account of the presence of shells in the boulder clay at various localities, and partly owing to the variety of stones in the deposit which are foreign to the islands. From an examination of the striated surfaces throughout the group it would seem that, during the primary glaciation, the ice crossed the islands from the SE towards the NW. There are several examples showing some divergence from this trend, but the prevalent direction of the striæ varies from WNW to NNW. Excellent examples of striated surfaces may be noted on the cliff tops near Noup Head, Westray, in the bay E of Fara's Ness in Eday, and on the slopes of the Stennie Hill in the same island. Again, in Kirkwall Bay, a short distance to the E of the Pier, an excellent example of striated flagstones is exposed on the beach where the boulder clay has been recently removed by the action of the sea.
The boulder clay occurs mainly round the bays, where fine sections are frequently seen, revealing the character of the deposit, as for instance in Kirkwall Bay, in Odin Bay in Stronsay, on the E and W shores of Shapinsay, in the bay E of Fara's Ness in Eday, and other localities. Consisting generally of a stiff gritty clay devoid of stratification, in which finely striated stones are very abundant, it resembles the ordinary boulder clay of Scotland. The blocks embedded in the clayey matrix are to a large extent local, being composed of flagstones, sandstones, and conglomeratic grits, while in the neighbourhood of Stromness fragments of granite and gneiss, derived from the ridge of crystalline rocks, are also present in the deposit. But in addition to these, the following rocks, which are foreign to the islands, are represented: chalk, chalk flints, oolitic limestone, oolitic breccia, oolitic fossil wood, dark limestone with Lepidostrobus of Calciferous Sandstone Age, quartzite, schists, and pink, porphyritic felsite. These blocks were in all probability derived from the E of Scotland, and chiefly from -the Moray Firth basin. A careful search in the various boulder clay sections throughout the islands hardly fails to bring to light some of these foreign blocks. They have been found in South Ronaldsay, the Mainland, Shapinsay, Stronsay, Eday, and North Ronaldsay. From an examination of the evidence supplied by the dispersal of the stones in this deposit it is apparent that the ice-flow must have crossed the islands from the North Sea towards the Atlantic. This conclusion is supported alike by the distribution of the local blocks as well as by the presence of rocks derived from the basin of the Moray Firth. Equally interesting is the occurrence of fragments of marine shells in the clayey matrix which have been smoothed and striated like the stones in the deposit. It is difficult to determine many of the species owing to the fragmentary character of the remains, but the following have been obtained from different sections: Saxicava arctica, Astarte, Cyprina islandica, Mytilus, and Mya truneata. Various species of foraminifera have also been met with after washing the clay.
In Hoy and the Mainland the existence of local glaciers after the period of extensive glaciation is proved by the occurrence of moraines in the valleys and on the hill slopes. Though erratics are not very abundant in the Orkneys, there is one remarkable boulder of hornblendic gneiss at Saville in Sanday measuring 90 cubic feet above ground.
Soils and Agriculture.Though in some places sand, and in others clay or moss, is found of great depth, yet the general soil of Orkney is shallow, lying upon either till or rock within 2 feet of the surface, and often so near as to be touched by the plough. The greater part of it is peat or moss, forming, from the nature and nearness of the subsoil, often a wet, spongy, and almost irreclaimable moorland; but elsewhere the moss is benty, or what the Orcadians call yarta soil, which can be brought under cultivation with little difficulty. Loams of various qualities, and sometimes, though never to any great extent, approaching to clay, cover a considerable area; and there is also a considerable proportion of sandy soil, which in places, particularly in Westray, Stronsay, and Sanday, passes into beds of loose shifting sand, quite barren and overlying the real soil. Of the arable land the larger proportion is sandy-no disadvantage in such a damp climate-or good loam, while the remainder is dry benty moss. There is a considerable extent of peat, which is cut for fuel, but this has been done in many cases so injudiciously that the whole lower soil is washed away. The peat mosses contain stems and roots of birch and pine trees, sometimes measuring nearly 1 foot across, which show that, notwithstanding their present bare condition, the islands were once well covered with wood. At this time, too, the land must have stood at a higher level than now, as mosses extend-at Otterwick Bay in Sanday, at Deerness in the Mainland, and elsewhere-under the sea.
Nearly all the land in Orkney is freehold, but burdened with payments-originally in kind, but now commuted-to the Crown, or to the Earl of Zetland, as the Crown donatory. These payments, though of various origins, all bear the name of feu-duties, and are exigible on account either of the Crown's having come in the place of the King of Norway, to whom the islands paid tribute till 1468, or of its having acquired rights by purchase and forfeiture, or of its having acquired the claims of the Bishop of Orkney. The feu-duties are in some cases very heavy, but the ground held by small proprietors only pays as feu-duty about a tenth of what it would as rent. A considerable proportion of the land was originally held under udal, odal, or allodial tenure * a system which required no written right; but, owing to the actings of Earls Robert and Patrick Stewart and to very numerous and frequent transferences by sale, it has come now, in the great majority of instances, to be held under charter and sasine, as in every other district of Scotland. The great proportion of the farms are small, and when very large they consist chiefly of extensive tracts of open grazing grounds, or the uninhabited pasture islands called holms.
* Under allodial tenure all male descendants of the original owner had rights over his possession that they were unable to divest themselves of. when an Odaller died his real estate became divisible equally among his sons, the only preference being that the eldest son could claim the chief farm. The sons thus in turn became odallers, and so the process west on. No owner could dispose of his land unless he could show that he was compelled to do so by poverty, and then the property had first to be offered to the next-of-kin. If they refused to buy, it might then be sold to any one; but the purchaser might at any moment, no matter what length of time had elapsed, be called on to restore it on repayment of the price by the original seller, or any of the descendants of the original owner; and if it were purchased or redeemed by any distant kinsman of the first possessor, any other kinsman nearer in blood might again have it given up to him. Tenure thus soon became so insecure, that it would have simply been waste for any one to expend money on improving land which might not be long his; and the system was, in consequence, so perfectly adapted to retard or even destroy the natural progress of the district, that it cannot be regretted that it has now become extinct, though the manner in which this was accomplished may be very much deprecated. The odallers were practically peasant nobles.
Under the old system of things, when only the strip along the coast was cultivated, and the interior of the islands was all commonty, the cultivated portions of farms were arranged in clusters called towns, and a proper Orcadian town consisted of a portion of ground partly under crop and partly in pasture-the infield pasture-and always, except where there was a natural boundary, separated from ` the hill' or common moor by a strong fence. The town was provided with a number of houses corresponding to the number of farms, and severally occupied by the different tenants. The arable ground was held runrig, the patches being allotted from year to year-a most effectual bar to all efforts at improvement. Many of the farms were also let on ` steelbow; ' that is, the implements, stock, and seed belonged to the proprietor, and when the tenant moved he had to leave the same amount of each that he received. Each resident in a town had, besides his possessions within the dyke, the privilege of sending his live stock to ` the hill ' or common moor, and liberty to cut turf on the mosses and sea-weed on the shore; indeed, both commonties and infield pastures were often much destroyed by the reckless manner in which the turf was stripped off. The farms varied in size from 10 to about 40 acres of arable land, which was thought to be as much as could be conveniently worked by one of the old Orcadian wooden ploughs, which was one of the most primitive instruments imaginable. It was ` still too much used ' when the Agricultural Report of Orkney was written in 1814, and kept its ground well into the present century; and, indeed, it is said to be even still used in some of the more out-of-the-way districts. This plough had only one stilt, resembling somewhat the left side of an ordinary plough. In place of the mould-board there were three or four pegs fastened in the side, and through or over which the mould had to pass. To keep it down the ploughman had to throw his weight against the opposite side, and he also carried a large staff for clearing the pegs of earth, etc., and to assist in steadying the whole implement. A good deal of the ploughing, however, was done by the pigs, which ran riot all over the land, and broke up the soil, sometimes to such an extent that the seed could be sown without further trouble. There were no carts, and the mode of portage -sometimes still used for carrying peats-for all articles was by means of the ` clibber and mazy ' balanced across the backs of horses, and bearing at the ends, down the horses' sides, strange - looking heather - baskets, called creels, or quite as strange straw ones called ` cubbies ' and ` cazzies; ' and this mode of conveyance was indeed rendered necessary by the almost entire absence of roads. Some of the proprietors and large farmers began, early in the century, to put their arable ground under regular rotation of crops, and to cultivate turnips and artificial grasses; but it was long ere the bulk of the small farmers and crofters could be induced to imitate them, and so up till 1840 they continued to torture their land out of heart by alternate crops of oats and here, with little or no other aid than doses of sea-weed, until, the returns hardly exceeding the seed corn, the land was left to recover its tone by the slow means of a long natural fallow. Since the beginning of improvement in 1840 by the abandonment of ` runrig, ' progress has been rapid, and now, allowing for the climate and the soil, farming is as good in Orkney as in almost any county in Scotland. This was strikingly shown during the visit paid to the islands by the Crofters' Commission of 1883, when but few grievances were brought forward at all, and those that were mentioned were shown to be mostly of a sentimental nature, as in the case of the man who told the commissioners that they were there ` to remove every cause of irritation, ' and begged them to abolish valuation schedules. The great proportion of the farms are small, and a curious feature all through the islands is the number of small proprietors found in every parish, and more particularly in that of Harray and Birsay in the Mainland, who work their own holdings. Of a total of 3319 holdings recorded in 1880, 2873 were of 50 acres or under, 279 between 50 and 100, l31 between 100 and 300, 29 between 300 and 500, and 7 over 500; and the average area of the smaller holdings was 16½ acres. The increase in the amount of ground under crop and permanent pasture rose from 23, 990 acres in 1855 to 86, 949 acres in 1870, and to 112, 148 in 1883, but it is possible that a small proportion of the increase may be accounted for by the defective condition of the earlier returns.
The acreage under the various crops at different dates is given in the following tables:
|Year.||Wheat.||Barley or Bere.||Oats.||Total.|
Grass, Root Crops, etc.Acres.
|Year.||Hay, Grass, and|
while there are about 40 to 50 acres annually under rye, beans, and peas, about 350 acres under other green crops than those mentioned, and about 1000 acres fallow. The usual rotation is the five shift, and the average yield of barley per acre is about 33 bushels, and of oats about 33 bushels, while turnips and potatoes are very variable, and run from 14 and 5 tons, respectively, upwards.
The agricultural live stock in the county at different dates is shown in the following table:
The cattle are small, but have been greatly improved in recent years by the introduction of shorthorn bulls, and on some of the larger farms the native breed has been replaced by polled cows from the mainland. The native sheep were the small short-tailed Norwegian sheep introduced here, as in the Hebrides, probably at the time of the Scandinavian conquest; but these have now been driven away to the distant North Ronaldsay and to the wilder parts of Hoy, and their places taken by Cheviots and crosses between Cheviots and Leicesters. The horses are small, and the pigs, probably from their free life, differ a good deal in shape and appearance from those of the mainland counties. Poultry of all kinds, particularly geese, are everywhere extensively reared, as may be imagined from the fact that in 1882 no fewer than 1,119, 860 dozens of eggs, valued at £37, 328, were exported from the islands. The exports of eggs in 1833 amounted to 100,000 dozens, valued at £2500; in 1861 they amounted to 500,000, valued at £12, 500; and in 1882 to the total just stated. During the last one hundred years the total value of the Orcadian exports has risen from £23,000 to over £300, 000, more than half of which is derived from the sale of live stock. In 1833 the animals exported numbered 1280, and their value was £5478; in 1848, after steamers began to ply to the islands, the number rose to 2500, the value being £12,625; in 1866 the number was 12, 260, and the value £80, 200; and in 1882 the number was 17, 279, and the value was £157,183, exclusive of 3850 dead pigs, valued at £11,500; while the exports of grain and oatmeal were worth £14, 258; or the total value of exports connected with farming alone amounted to £220, 920.
Industries.Fish of all sorts are very plentiful around the Orcadian shores, but it was long ere the people availed themselves of the riches of the sea. Herring-fishing seems to have begun in 1815, and for many years thereafter a large number of boats prosecuted this industry from Stronsay, but the demand for labourers, consequent on the great progress of agriculture, and a few seasons with bad fishing, combined to cause a falling off, and the number of boats is at present declining. Orkney forms one of the Scottish fishery districts, and there were, belonging to the islands in 1882, 178 first-class boats, 25 second-class boats, and 424 third-class boats, with 2534 resident fisher men and boys. The principal stations for first-class boats were Stronsay, with 13; Holm, on the eastern mainland district, with 16; Burray, with 21; Grimness, in South Ronaldsay, with 19; and St Margaret's Hope, with 24. For third-class boats, the principal stations are Stronsay, with 20; Eday, with 23; Westray and Papa Westray with 136; and Shapinsay with 23. These boats were valued at £l3,124, the nets at £10, 807, and the lines at £1923, while the total number of persons employed in connection with them inclusive of the fishermen was 3433. In the same year only 197 boats prosecuted the herring fishing within the district, and these had a total catch of 20,046 barrels, of which over 11,000 were exported. Cod-fishing employed a considerable number of boats in the last quarter of last century, particularly about Stronsay, but was afterwards neglected. It revived again in the early years of the present century during the great European wars, as the fishing ground was less exposed than the Dogger Bank to annoyance from privateers. After that there was a temporary period of decline, but it now is an important and thriving industry, prosecuted by the natives of the North Isles in open boats, and from other places by well appointed smacks, which fish in the waters about Iceland and the Färoe Isles. In 1882 the smacks fitted out in Orkney for this fishing were 16 of 984 tons, and manned by 182 men, and the cod, ling, and hake captured numbered 116, 020: in the same year 223, 505 fish were taken by open boats, making a total of 339, 525. Lobster-fishing was introduced by an English company in the beginning of the present century, and about 1814 the annual number sent to London reached 120, 000, valued at £1500, and it has been vigorously prosecuted ever since, but the numbers caught have been, of late years, gradually diminishing-a result due to non-observance of a close-time and the capture of immature animals or of those laden with spawn. When the whale-fishing was prosecuted in the neighbourhood of Davis Strait the whalers used to ship a considerable number of men from the Orkneys, but the number of those that go is now very much diminished, especially since the shifting of the fishing ground farther N. For many years subsequent to 1741 -large numbers of the men in the employment of the Hudson Bay Company were Orcadians, and some of them, like Dr Rae, the well-known explorer, held positions of importance; but the life in the frozen North seems now to have lost its attractions, and but few of them find their way to the fur region.
The manufacture of linen-yarn and cloth, introduced in 1747 by Andrew Ross, chamberlain to the Earl of Morton, was long extensively carried on, and many of the tenants were compelled, not only to grow flax, but also to manufacture it into linen. The industry received, however, a severe check from the difficulty and uncertainty of obtaining flax during the great continental war in the beginning of the present century, and has since practically disappeared. As in the Hebrides, the staple industry was, at one time, the trade in kelp, and here, also, the sudden downfall of the trade proved very disastrous, although it had the good result of turning the attention of the proprietors to the improvement of the land that had been lying so long waste and neglected. The manufacture of kelp was first introduced in 1722, in Stronsay, by James Fea of Whitehall, and notwithstanding its subsequent importance made way at first but very slowly. According to the writer in the Old Statistical Account the people, ' averse to have any kind of labour but what they had been accustomed to see and hear of, represented how hurtful that new business was likely to be, for they could have no doubt of its driving the fish from the coast and ruining the fishing; they were certain it would destroy both the corn and the grass, and they were very much afraid that it might even prevent their women from having any children.' But by 1750 the annual manufacture had reached about 900 tons. This had increased in 1770 to 1500 tons, in 1780 to 2000 tons, in 1790 to almost 3000 tons, and in 1826 it reached its highest when 3500 tons were manufactured. The amount of labour involved may be estimated if we keep in mind that about 24 tons of sea-weed had to be burned to produce 1 ton of kelp. Leaving out of account a short period during the Peninsular War when the price reached £20 a ton, the annual value of the kelp exported from 1740 to 1760 was about £2000; in 1770 it was £6000; in 1780, £10, 000, in 1790, £17, 000; and in 1826, £24, 500. The events which destroyed the trade elsewhere [see Hebrides] had the same effect here in 1832, and caused the same amount of suffering and disaster among workers and proprietors, but the industry is reviving in the North Isles, where the annual manufacture has again reached about 1500 tons; and as the Orkney kelp is of superior quality it finds a fairly good market. The making of straw plait for ladies' bonnets and gentlemen's hats was introduced about the beginning of the century, and developed so rapidly that in 15 years afterwards it afforded employment for from 6000 to 7000 women, and the value of what was exported was about £20,000. The material then employed was split ripened wheat straw, but the plait produced from this was very brittle and flimsy. On the introduction, by Messrs Muir of Greenock, of an imitation of Leghorn plait, the wheat straw was given up, and unripened, unsplit, boiled and bleached rye-straw substituted; and the manufacture of Tuscan-plait (as the imitation was called) flourished until the reduction of the duty on foreign straw-plait allowed foreign competition first to press it hard, and finally to put an end to it altogether. The commerce and one or two of the smaller industries are noticed under Kirkwall, under which the means of communication between the mainland of Scotland and the islands are also noticed. Under the Act obtained in 1857 for the purpose, good district roads were formed through t the islands. A telegraph cable was laid in 1876* from Scrabster through Hoy Sound to Stromness, and a cable was laid in 1871 from Orkney to Shetland.
* This superseded a cable laid in 1869 from Brough in Caithness to Aith Hope in the S end of Hoy.
Formerly the farm-buildings on nearly all the small holdings were built of stones and clay, or stones and clod, thatched with straw, with the fire in the centre of the floor and the smoke finding its way out by a hole in the roof, just as is still the case in the Hebrides. The door, less than five feet high, afforded ingress and egress to every inmate, whether quadruped or biped, with or without feathers. This is now greatly changed for the better, and in most districts an aspect of much greater care and regard for comfort are to be seen, and the houses contrast strongly with those of a similar class in the western islands and mainland. The walls are built of good dry stone rubble, pointed with lime both inside and out. Even the smallest have two apartments, well lighted, and the roof slated or well thatched. The older houses too were, as indeed some houses still are, at once dwelling-house, cow-house, and hen-roost. The cows for the most part occupy their own end of the buildings, though a few calves or a favourite cow may be seen in the end of honour in company with the family; and fowls and geese perch promiscuously on the balks of the rafters overhead. Attached to many of the cottages and connected with the barn is a small round antique-looking tower, used as a kiln for drying corn. All this must, however, be understood as applying only to the smaller holdings, as the buildings on the large farms are as good and well-appointed as anywhere in the N of Scotland.
The Orcadians, though sprung from the same Scandinavian stock as the Shetlanders, have, probably from their more extensive and ready intercourse with the mainland, fewer and less marked peculiarities of manner, and it is but seldom that you find a decidedly Scandinavian face. The men, a fine powerful race, have, too, lost much of the swinging walk that is to be found among the Shetlanders, and have more of the slow plodding step characteristic of the agricultural labourer. They are very gentle in their manner and in their style of speech, and yet cool and brave in the face of danger. From the nature of their country, many of them are first-rate boatmen, and during the season of egg-gathering the risks run and the escapes made lead to a habit of at least seeming indifference to danger and death. Many stories are told of the matter-of-fact way in which such things are treated. One is of a man whose son had descended a cliff while he himself, in case of accident, kept watch in his boat below. The rope by which the young man was partly supported having given way he fell into the sea and was almost drowned before his father reached him and dragged him into the boat, but all that the old man had to say was ` Eh! I'm thinking thou's wat, Tam.' On another occasion a cragsman working his way along a narrow shelf came to a corner which he had to turn, but found at the critical moment that he had the wrong foot first. Pausing for a moment he took off his broad bonnet, in which was his snuff-horn, refreshed himself with a pinch, and then making a spring got the proper foot to the front. When he had reached the top of the cliff safe, a friend said to him, ` Man, Johnnie, were ye no feared ' ` Eh man, if I had been feared I wudna be here. ' ` I daresay that, ' was the answer, ` but what made you think of taking a snuff when you were in such danger ? " Weel, ' replied John, ` I thocht I was needin't. ' Many of the -old superstitions lingered long and lovingly about the whole group of islands, but they have now retreated into the more out-of-the-way district, where beliefs in fairies, in the right hand course and the left hand course, a dislike for turbot or even the mention of the name of turbot while at sea, and other ideas of a similar kind are still held, though they are now kept a good deal out of sight, as things not to be talked of to scoffers. The language is a variety of Scotch with a peculiar accent or intonation, the voice rising and falling in a sort of rough cadence, and the peculiarity varies from island to island, so that those acquainted with the whole district can distinguish the natives of the different islands. ` Thou ' and ` thee ' are used instead of ` you, ' and there are many peculiar words which are survivals of Norse. The place names in Orkney belong almost without t exception to this dialect, and many Norse family names still survive among the common people, while some of the small crofter proprietors in the parish of Harray, in the western district of the mainland, are said to retain not only the old name, but also the very lands, held by their forefathers many centuries ago. This parish was the last stronghold of the Norse tongue in Orkney, and it is said to have been spoken here down to 1757.
The only royal burgh is Kirkwall; the only other town is Stromness, which is a burgh of barony-both on the Mainland; and the only village with more than 300 inhabitants is St Margaret's Hope, in South Ronaldsay. The islands are divided into eighteen entire quoad civilia parishes, Westray - which includes Westray, Papa Westray, Holm of Papa, Wart Holm, and Rusk Holm; Cross and Burness-which includes the W part of Sanday, Holms of Spurness, Holms of Ire and North Ronaldsay; Lady, including the E part of Sanday and Start Point; Stronsay and Eday - which includes Stronsay and Eday with the islands about them, with Muckle and Little Green Holms and Auskerry-Rousay and Egilsay, including Rousay, Egilsay, Viera, Eynhallow, and the smaller islands about; Shapinsay, including Helir Holm; Evie and Rendal, Harray and Birsay, Sandwick, Stromness, Firth and Stenness, and Orphir, all in the western portion of Pomona, and the first including Gairsay, Sweyn Holm, and some small holms in the Wide Firth, and the last including Cava in Scapa Flow; Kirkwall, at the narrow part of Pomona; St Andrews and Holm, in the eastern part of the Mainland, the former including Copinsay and the latter Lamb Holm; Hoy and Graemsay, and Walls and Flotta, both in Hoy, and the former including Graemsay, and the latter Risa, Fara, Flotta, Switha, and South Walls; and last, South Ronaldsay, including the island of the same name, Burray, Hunda, Glimps Holm, Swona, and the Pentland Skerries. The quoad sacra parishes of St Mary's (South Ronaldsay), Birsay (Harray and Birsay), Flotta (Walls and Flotta), Stenness (Firth and Stenness), Eday and Fara (Stronsay and Eday), North Ronaldsay (Cross and Burness), and the mission stations of Rendal (Evie and Rendal), Burray (South Ronaldsay), Graemsay, North Walls (both in Walls), and Rapness (Westray and Papa Westray) are also included.
There are Established churches within all the parishes and quoad sacra parishes, and there are also 15 places of worship in connection with the Free Church, 13 in connection with the U.P. Church, 1 in connection with the United Original Seceders, 2 Congregational churches, 1 in connection with the Evangelical Union, 3 Baptist churches, and 1 Episcopal church. In the year ending Sept. 1882 there were in Orkney and Shetland 120 schools (110 public), which, with accommodation for 11, 051 children, had 8461 on the rolls, and an average attendance of 6310. Their staff consisted of 129 certificated, 4 assistant, and 37 pupil, teachers. Orkney, with a constituency of 1403 in 1882-83, unites with Shetland in returning a member to serve in parliament. It is governed by a lord-lieutenant, a vice-lieutenant, 13 deputy-lieutenants, and 60 justices of the peace; forms a division of the sheriffdom of Caithness, Orkney, and Shetland; and has a resident sheriff-substitute. Ordinary courts are held at Kirkwall every Tuesday throughout the session. Sheriff small-debt courts are also held at Kirkwall every Tuesday during the session; and circuit courts are held at Stromness on the third Thursdays of March, June, and September, and on the first Thursday of December, and at St Margaret's Hope on the second Thursdays of April, June, and September. Justice of peace courts are held at Kirkwall as required, and at Stromness on the last Thursday of every month. Quarter-sessions meet at Kirkwall on the first Tuesdays of March, May, and August, and on the last Tuesday of October. The average number of registered poor in 1883 was 707, with 245 dependents, and of casual poor 17, with 5 dependents; the receipts for poor-law purposes were £5755, 5s. 6d., and the expenditure £5589, 7s. 1d. There is a combination poorhouse near Kirkwall. There is no assessment for poor-law purposes in the islands of Papa Westray, Eday, Rousay, Shapinsay, and Hoy, nor in the parish of Sandwick on the Mainland. The proportion of illegitimate births averages about 5.5 per cent., and the deathrate averages about 15 per thousand. The principal markets are at Dounby on the second Thursday of every month; Firth, on the third Monday of every month; Hosen, on the second Wednesday of February and June and the first Wednesday of November; Kirkwall, on the first Monday of every month and the first Tuesday after 11 August; Sanday, on the first Thursday before Kirkwall Lammas market and on the second Thursday of November; South Ronaldsay, on the first Wednesday after 11 November; Shapinsay, on the second Monday of March; Stromness, on the first Wednesday of every month, the Wednesday before Wasdale market, and the first Tuesday of September; Stenness, on - the first Tuesday of March, the first Tuesday after the second Wednesday of June, and the Tuesday after the first Wednesday of November; Tankerness, on the last Thursday of each month; Wasdale, on the first Wednesdays of February and June and the last Wednesday of October; Walls, on the first Fridays of June and November; Westray, on the third Thursday of March and the first Thursday of August; and at Rousay, on the last Wednesday of March and the third Wednesday of July. The 1st Orkney Artillery Volunteer Corps, with headquarters at Kirkwall, have batteries at Kirkwall, Sanday, Shapinsay, Stromness, Stronsay, Holm, Evie, Rousay, and Birsay. Valuation (1653-71) £4672, (1815) £20, 938, (1843) £22, 858, (1861) £44, 214, (18 8283) £69, 950, (1883-84) £70,623, exclusive of the burgh of Kirkwall. The civil and registration counties are identical. Pop. (1801) 24, 445, (1811) 23, 238, (1821) 26, 679, (1831) 28, 847, (1841) 30, 507, (1851) 31, 455, (1861) 32, 395, (1871) 31, 274, (1881) 32, 044, of whom 14,982 were males and 17, 062 females. In the same year the number of persons to each square mile was 85, the number of families 7270, the number of houses 6358, and the number of rooms 18, 184. Of the 32, 044 inhabitants 453 males and 221 females were connected with the civil or military services or with professions, 24 men and 887 women were domestic servants, 417 men and 9 women were connected with commerce, 6031 men and 1264 women were connected with agriculture and fishing, and 2286 men and 1273 women were engaged in industrial handicrafts or w ere dealers in manufactured substances, while there were 5215 boys and 7434 girls of school age. Of those connected with farming and fishing 5165 men and 1264 women were concerned with farming alone, and 2810 farmers employed 966 men, 227 boys, 223 women, and 424 girls.
Ecclesiastically the whole of Orkney is embraced in the Synod of Orkney, which contains the presbyteries of Kirkwall, Cairston, and North Isles. It meets at Kirkwall on the second Tuesday of September. The presbyteries of Kirkwall and Cairston are separately noticed; the presbytery of North Isles contains the parishes of Cross and Burness, Lady, Rousay and Egilsay, Shapinsay, Stronsay and Eday, and Westray and Papa Westray, and the quoad sacra parishes of Eday and Fara, and North Ronaldsay. The Free Church has also a synod of Orkney, which forms, however, only one presbytery, and includes the charges at Birsay, Deerness, Evie and Rendal, Firth, Harray and Sandwick, Holm, Kirkwall, North Ronaldsay, Orphir, Papa Westray, Rousay and Egilsay, Sanday, South Ronaldsay, Stromness and St Andrews. The U.P. Church has a presbytery of Orkney, with charges at Burray, Eday, Firth, Holm, Kirkwall, Rousay, Sanday, Sandwick, Shapinsay, South Ronaldsay, Stromness, Stronsay, Westray and Wick.
History.The derivation of the name is uncertain. Orc is given in the Welsh Triads as one of the three principal isles of Britain, and it is also given as the modern Welsh name of the Orkneys. The present name is sometimes derived from the British Orch, which means ' on the edge or bordering,' and ynys, or inis, ` an islands. Other derivations are the Scandinavian Orkin, ` a sea monster, ' and ey, ` an island, ' and Ork, or Oerk, ` a desert or uninhabited place,' and ey, ` an island; ' but the whole matter must be left in the realms of conjecture. The first historical mention seems to be by Diodorus Siculus, who, in the year 57, mentions Cape Orcas as one of the extremities of Britain. In A.D. 86 Ag.ricola's fleet passed northward, after the battle of Mons Granpius or Graupius, and must have reached these islands whence the sailors saw or fancied they saw the renowned Thule. Pomponius Mela mentions the islands about the middle of the second century, and states their number at 30. Pliny gives the number at 40, and Ptolemy at 30, while Solinus, writing in 240, and having heard probably only of the islands next the mainland, puts it at 3. From Claudian's account of the exploits of Theodosius in the end of the 4th century, we are able to infer that the Saxons had settlements among the islands, or visited them; and Nennius in his Historia Britonum says that in 449 the Saxon chiefs, Ochtha and Ebissa, ` with forty keels ' laid waste the Orkneys. The next reference is in Adamnan's Life of St Columba, where it is stated that the Saint was, when he visited Brude, King of the Picts, A.D. 563, in some concern for Cormac, grandson of Lethan, ` who not less than three times went in search of a desert in the ocean, but did not find it,' and who, he knew, would ` after a few month s arrive at the Orcades; ' so he ` recommended him in the following terms to King Brude in the presence of the ruler of the Orcades: " Some of our brethren have lately set sail and are anxious to discover a desert in the pathless sea; should they happen, after many wanderings, to come to the Orcadian islands, do thou carefully instruct this chief, whose hostages are in thy hand, that no evil befall them within his dominions; " ' and we are further told that ` so it afterwards came to pass, and to this advice of the holy man Cormac owed his escape from impending death.' Who the people were who inhabited them, or what was their connection with Brude, is not clear, but it may be reasonably supposed that they were Picts, who, lying on the borders of the northern Pictish kingdom, were somewhat turbulent. Nennius, who wrote about the middle of the 9th century, says that the people were Picts in his day, and among the Scandinavians who afterwards peopled the islands, the traditions of an early race of ` Pights, ' who were small men, have been very persistent. Before the death of Brude, which took place in 584, Edan, king of Dalriada, had, according to the Ulster Annals, sent an expedition against the Orkneys, and from this time there is no further mention of them for almost a century; but probably the expedition had been successful, and the group had been under Dalriadic rule, for in 682 we find Brude mac Bile, the then king of the Northern Picts, undertaking an expedition against them, and adding them again to the Pictish domains. During this period Christian missionaries had spread all over the islands and reached as far as Iceland, as we know from the Irish Monk Dicuil, who wrote a treatise De Mensura Orbis Terrarum in or about 825. Though this early Christianity disappeared after the Norse occupation, traces of it still remain in the islands named Papa, that being a name given by the Norsemen to the early Christian missionaries, as well as in the islands of Ronaldsay, the Norse name of which was Rinansey or St Ninian's or Ringan's Isle, in the sculptured stones similar to the early Christian monuments of the mainland of Scotland, in the old square-shaped ecclesiastical bells that have been found at several places, and in the names of places where chapels had been dedicated to various of the early Irish and Columban saints.
The Norse rovers seem to have begun to visit Britain regularly in search of plunder about the close of the 8th century, and by the middle of the 9th, Olaf the White had established a powerful kingdom in Ireland. When Harald Harfagri therefore by his victory of Hafursfiord in 872 made himself master of Norway, and many of the large landowners and their followers opposed to his usurpation or dispossessed of their territories were compelled to flee from his anger, one of the first districts in which they sought shelter and safety was among the Orkney Islands; and having settled permanently there, as well as in Iceland, the Færoes, and the Hebrides, they ` turned their haven of refuge into a base of operations for retaliatory warfare, harrying the coasts of Norway during the summer months and living at leisure in the islands during winter on the plunder.' Harold was not, however, to be thus treated with impunity, so in 875 he fitted out a fleet and made a descent on both Orkneys and Hebrides, subduing them and bringing them under his government. As Ivar the son of Rognvald, Jarl of Moeri, one of his chief supporters, was killed, in Sanday probably, during the fighting, and probably also with an eye to a vigorous and powerful ruler who would be able to maintain the conquest, Harald appointed this Rognvald also Jarl of Orkney, but as the latter preferred to return to Norway, he was allowed to hand over the title and power to his brother Sigurd, who indulged the restless nature of himself and his followers by expeditions against the mainland of Scotland, in the course of which he conquered the greater portion of Caithness, Sutherland, -Ross, and Moray, in the latter of which districts he finally died [see Forres and Moray]. He was succeeded by his son Guttorm, who, however, ruled only one year, when he died, and was succeeded by Hallad, son of Rognvald, for whom his father had obtained the earldom on the news of Sigurd's death reaching Norway. Contrary, however, to the spirit of the times, Hallad was a man of peace, and wearying of the struggle with his piratical subjects - if they may so be called - soon returned to Norway. He was succeeded by his brother Einar,* who proved a rigorous ruler. He is said to have been the first to teach the Orcadians to use turf for fuel, and so he came to be known as TorfEinar. He was succeeded by his son, Thorfinn, who by his marriage with Grelauga, daughter of Duncan, Earl of Caithness, again united the mainland Norse districts to the Orkney Jarldom. He left five sons, who devoted their energies to murdering one another, till Hlodver, the last of them, was left in sole possession of power, which, however, he did not long enjoy. At his death in 980 his son, Sigurd the Stout, succeeded, and had to defend his mainland possessions, first against Finleikr, Mormaer of Moray, and father of Macbeth, and again, according to the Njal Saga, against Finleikr's successor, Melsnechtan, and another Scottish Mormaer, who is called Hundi. In both contests he was successful, and made himself master of the greater part of the North of Scotland, penetrating even S of the Moray Firth [see Moray]. He was, however, afterwards reconciled to King Malcolm, and obtained his daughter as a second wife, after which his forays against the Scottish dominions ceased. This latter event came about as the Orkneyinga Saga tells in the following manner: 'Olaf, Tryggvi's son, returning from a viking expedition to the west, came to the Orkneys with his men and seized Earl Sigurd in Rorvaag [in Hoy, or according to Olaf's Saga at Asmundarvag, also in Hoy], as he lay there with a single ship. King Olaf offered the Earl to ransom his life on condition that he should embrace the true faith and be baptized; that he should become his man and proclaim Christianity over all the Orkneys. He took his son, Hundi or Hvelp, as a hostage, and left the Orkneys for Norway, where he became King; and Hundi stayed with him some years, and died there. After that, Earl Sigurd paid no allegiance to King Olaf. He married the daughter of Malcolm, King of Scots, and their son was Earl Thorfinn; his elder sons were Sumarlidi, Brusi, and Einar. ' Such was the second introduction of Christianity among the islanders. Sigurd's second marriage took place about 1006, and as Scotland was now shut against his enterprise, he soon began to look about for fresh fields of adventure. Thoroughly tired of the repose of his own shores, he started in 1014 to assist Brodir, a Viking Leader, against Brian Boroime, King of Munster. On Good Friday in that year, the great battle of Christianity against Paganism was fought, and the Pagans were defeated. Sigurd no sooner tried himself to carry forward his magic banner, which brought victory to him before whom it was borne, but death to him who bore it, than he fell pierced by a spear, and so died the ablest of all the early Norse Jarls. It was in connection with this battle that the weird sisters sang that ghastly song which Gray has paraphrased in the Fatal Sisters, and the Norse version of which was preserved in North Ronaldsay till the latter half of the 18th century. King Malcolm gave the Earldom of Caithness to Thorfinn, then only five years of age, and Sumarlidi, Brusi, and Einar divided the Orkneys among them, but by the death of the first, and the murder of the last, Brusi obtained the whole of the islands. Thorfinn resembled his father in vigour and ambition; he commenced, at the age of fourteen, his career as a viking, and often, even during his grandfather's reign, kept the coast in fear by his daring and ruthless exploits. On the death of his two half-brothers and the succession of Brusi, he claimed a share, and ultimately got a third. When Duncan succeeded Malcolm, he claimed tribute from Thorfinn, who refused it, and hence the war in which Duncan lost his life at the hands of Macbeth [see Moray], and after which Thorfinn took possession of a considerable portion of Scotland, and became the most powerful of the Jarls. On the death of Brusi, his son, Rognvald Brusison, came over from Norway and claimed his father's share of the islands, but he came to terms with Thorfinn, and there was no fighting for eight years, when the quarrel broke out afresh and Rognvald was defeated and fled, only, however, to return in a few years and try the fortune of war again. This time he was killed, and Thorfinn thereafter held undisputed sway. In 1047 he was reconciled to King Magnus of Norway, who recognised him as Jarl of Orkney. Thereafter he visited Rome to obtain pardon for his many misdeeds, and after his return devoted the larger part of his time to the government of his dominions, his old excursions being abandoned. He died in 1064, and was succeeded by his sons, Paul and Erlend, who ruled jointly till they were deposed by King Magnus, who made his own son, Sigurd, Jarl. On Sigurd's succession to the throne of Norway in 1103, Hakon, son of Paul, and Magnus, son of Erlend, succeeded and ruled jointly till 1115, when Magnus (the St Magnus to whom the cathedral at Kirkwall is dedicated) was murdered in Egilsay. Notwithstanding this foul deed, Hakon seems to have been a good ruler. His son s, Paul and Harald, succeeded, but Harald was accidently put to death by his mother-by a poisoned shirt the Saga say, which was intended for Paul. Kali, son of Kol, who had married a sister of Magnus, now claimed half the islands, and had his claim allowed. He changed his name to Rognvald, and was the founder of the cathedral at Kirkwall, but there was for many years after this a conflict between different claimants, whose rights or supposed rights are too complex to be here minutely detailed. The Norse line finally became extinct in 1231, with the murder of the then Jarl John.
* Another brother, Rollo, is said to have desired the post, and when his brother was preferred, he started for France, where, taking possesson of Normandy. he founded the line which was by-and-by to send a sovereign to England.
The earldom of Caithness was then given by Alexander II. to Magnus, second son of Gilbride, Earl of Angus, who seems to have also received the earldom of Orkiney from the King of Norway, but little is known of him or of his successors. One of them, Magnus III., accompanied the great expedition which King Haco assembled in the Orkneys in 1263, and survived the battle of Largs, for his death is recorded in 1273. The return of the broken-hearted Haco is noticed under Kirkwall. This Magnus was succeeded by his son Magnus IV., who is styled Earl of Orkney in the document by which Margaret Maid of Norway was declared next heir to the Scottish throne. John and Magnus V. succeeded, and with the latter the Angus line ended. His daughter had married Malise, Earl of Stratherne, who, about 1321, succeeded to the earldom in right of his wife, and his son Malise, who succeeded, was confirmed in the earldom of Orkney by the King of Norway, but he was afterwards deprived of it on suspicion of treason in 1357. In 1379 Henry St Clair or Sinclair and Malise Sparre preferred claims to it as heirs of this Malise of Stratherne. How the former was descended from, or connected with, him seems to be involved in inextricable confusion, but his title to succced must have been sufficiently clear at the time, for in the year mentioned he was formally recognised by King Hakon of Norway. The death of Hakon shortly afterwards enabled him to become semi-independent, and he seems to have acted very much like a small king. While William Sinclair, the third of the line, held the earldom, the young King of Scotland, James III., pressed by Christian I., King of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, for payment of a long arrear of ` the annual of Norway ' for the Hebrides, compromised the matter by marrying Margaret, princess of Denmark, and as only 2000 crowns of her dowry of 60, 000 were forthcoming in ready money at the time, he received the Orkneys in pledge for 50, 000 crowns and the Shetlands for 8000 more. As the islands were never ransomed, they became thenceforth attached to Scotland. In 1470-71 the earldom of Orkney and the lordship of Shetland were, as to their ` haill richt, ' purchased by James III. from the Sinclairs and annexed to the Crown, not to be alienated except in favour of a lawful son of the king. But the royal rights were somewhat involved. The power of the Bishop of Orkney, which had, since Bishop William (see Kirkwall), grown up from littleness to grandeur under the administration of the later earls, was, to a certain extent, co-ordinate with that of the king as lord of the islands. ' The old bishopric of Orkney was a greate thing, and lay sparsism throughout the haill parochines of Orknay and Zetland. Beside his lands, he had ye teinds of auchteen kirks: his lands grew daily, as delinquencies increased in the countray. ' Many small proprietors, too-odallers-had heritages mixed up everywhere with the lands of the quondam earls and with those of the bishop; and while they paid scat to the superior of the soil, they claimed to retain Norwegian customs and to be governed by Norwegian laws. Down to the death of James III. in 1488, the islands were almost entirely managed by the bishop, but in 1489 and in 1501, Henry, Lord Sinclair, obtained from James IV. leases of the earldom at the extremely low rent of £336, 13s. 4d. Scots, at which it had been leased to the bishops; and though he fell at Flodden in 1513, the property was given in successive leases to his widow, Lady Margaret, at the same rent. In 1529, the Earl of Caithness and Lord Sinclair, for what purpose is not very clear, but doubtless in some way to increase their own power and wealth, invaded Orkney at the head of an armed force, but were met by the Orkney men at Summerdale, in Stenness, and totally routed, the Earl being killed and Lord Sinclair taken prisoner. In 1530 a grant of the islands in feu was made-in defiance of the Act of annexation under James III., and also of Lady Margaret Sinclair's lease-to the Earl of Moray, the natural brother of James V., but it never yielded him any proceeds. About 1535 the islands were hononred by James V. with the only royal visit they have received from Scottish or British sovereigns. The king remained some time in the then bishop's palace, which stood on the W side of Victoria Street at Kirkwall, receiving homage and administering justice. In 1540 the favourable leases to Lady Margaret Sinclair were terminated, and Oliver Sinclair of Pitcairns whose name is associated with the shameful Rout of Solway-became the last lessee of the Sinclair family, at, however, the advanced rent of £2000. The last of his two leases expired in 1548, and of the former greatness of the family in Orkney there now remains no trace.
The earldom of Orkney became part of the jointure of the widow of James V., and was by her placed under the administration of one Bonot, a Frenchman, and the Earl of Huntly. How it was disposed of during the fourteen years following her death in 1560 is not known, the only records of the islands being respites and pardons for murder. In 1564 Lord Robert Stewart, a natural son of James V., received a charter granting him for an annual rent of £2000, 13s. 4d. Scots, not only the offices of Sheriff of Orkney and Fowd of Shetland, but the whole lands, whether held odally or otherwise. The grant does not seem to have been at first acted on, but Stewart, who was also commendator of Holyrood, had exchanged temporalities with the bishop, and thus united the crown and episcopal rights. In 1567, a little before Queen Mary's marriage, he had to give up his rights in favour of Bothwell, who was at the same time created Duke of Orkney, but did not long enjoy his title or domains. At the close of the same year it was debated in parliament `quhider Orknay and Zetland sal be subject to the commone law of this realme or gif thai sal bruike thair awne lawis ?-when it was found that thai aught to be subject to thair awne lawis.'
Lord Robert Stewart seems to have resumed possession after Bothwell's flight, but his heavy oppression of the people caused such an outcry, that at length he was deprived of his lordship, only, however, to receive it again in 1581, from which date he held the islands till 1587, when the grant was revoked, and they were leased to Sir John Maitland of Thirlstane and Sir Ludovick Ballantine for two years at a rent of £4000 Scots a year. In 1589 they were again granted to Lord Robert Stewart at a rent of £2073, 6s. 8d. Scots, and in 1591 they were given to him in life rent and to his son Patrick in fee. Lord Robert died in 1591, and his son succeeded; but a fresh outcry arising against his exactions, there was a brief resumption by the Crown. Lord Patrick, however, obtained a new charter in 1600, which, while not granting him the ` whole ' lands or the ` superiority,' and binding him to administer justice according to the old laws of the country, yet concentrated in him the rights of both Crown and bishop.
Earls Robert and Patrick both aimed at destroying the odal system, and as lands so held could not be alienated without the consent of all the heirs in the Fowdra court, they so summoned and adjourned this court and filled it up with creatures of their own, that it became a mere instrument in their hands; they silenced and overawed the refractory odallers by their men-at-arms, and they employed their rights over the temporalities of the bishopric as a pretext for levying fines from such landholders as incurred any censure of the church. They thus succeeded in wresting much landed property from the rightful owners, and terrified not a few of the odal proprietors into a surrender of their peculiar privileges, an acknowledgment of feudal vassalage, and an acceptance of tenure by charter. The rent of the earldom, too, being paid chiefly in kind, they increased it by increasing the value of the weights used; raising the mark from 8 ounces to 12, and the lispund from 12 pounds to 18. Earl Patrick even excelled his father in his despotism, compelling the people to work like slaves in carrying on buildings and other works for him, confiscating the lands of the inhabitants on the most trivial pretences, carrying off the movable goods of any one who dared to leave the islands without special permission from himself or his deputies, and-crowning display of his savage temper and avarice -ordaining that ` if any man tried to- supply or give relief to ships, or any vessel distressed by tempest, the same shall be punished in his person and fined at the Earl's pleasure.' Bishop Law, however, interfered, more because the Earl's claims clashed with his than from any desire for justice, and Earl Patrick was summoned to Edinburgh in 1609 and kept in prison there and at Dumbarton till 1615. In 1614 his illegitimate son, Robert, had seized the Castle of Kirkwall and the steeple of the cathedral, and held them with an armed force, but the outbreak was put down by the Earl of Caithness, and both father and son were executed at Edinburgh in 1615 on a charge of treason.
Under the pretext that a forfeiture might injure those proprietors who had resigned their odal tenures and accepted charters, the lands of the earldom were not immediately declared forfeited, and many of the proprietors were alarmed into the measure of asking and accepting charters from the Crown in the usual feudal form; while all, fearing another taskmaster akin in character to the two last, importuned the king to annex the islands inalienably to the Crown. James VI., after thus all but completing the ruin of the odal tenures, formally annexed ` the lands of Orkney and Zetland to the Crown to remain in all time coming, ' and though he admonished the people by proclamation against all fear of the islands reverting ` to their former condition of misrule, trouble, and oppression, ' he made no restoration of the lands which had been unlawfully seized by the last earls, and setting up the rental of Earl Patrick as the rule for future guidance, he immediately began to let the islands out to a series of farmers-general. The people thus oppressed without mercy petitioned the King that no man might ` be interponed between his Majesty and them, but that they might remain his Majesty's immediate vassals. ' In response to this appeal the islands were for a few years closely annexed to the Crown, but were soon again leased out as before, and subjected to such oppression as was utterly incompatible with any prosperity.
In 1643 they were, with all the regalities belonging to them, granted by Charles I. in mortgage to the Ear; of Morton, but were redeemable by the Crown on payment of an alleged debt of £30, 000. They were confiscated by Cromwell, but after the Restoration, were again in 1662 given back to the Earl of Morton, under whose arbitrary control the Fowdra court was abolished. In 1669 they were again, by act of parliament, annexed ' for ever ' to the Crown and leased -out as before, but in l707 were granted in mortgage-redeemable for £30, 000, but with an annual feu-duty of £500-to James, Earl of Morton, who was appointed admiral and hereditary steward and justiciary. In 1742 the Earl, though his revenues from the islands amounted to £3000 a year, pretended that they did not yield a rental equal to the interest of the supposed mortgage, and contrived on this-pretext to get an act of parliament declaring them irredeemable. On the abolition of the hereditary jurisdictions in 1747 he received compensation, but being harassed by lawsuits in connection with the weights and other matters, he sold the whole in l766 to Sir Lawrence Dundas, afterwards Earl of Zetland, with whose descendants they still remain. The title of Earl of Orkney in the peerage of Scotland was granted in 1696, together with those of Viscount Kirkwall and Baron Dechmont to the Fitzmaurice family, who are, however, connected territorially with Wigtownshire. The bishopric lands are in possession of the Crown. The antiquities of the Orkneys are numerous and interesting, and the brochs or burghs, cairns, Picts' houses, castles, and old churches will be found noticed either under the islands or parishes in which they are. Some of the more important are treated separately.
See also the works mentioned under Kirkwall, and Brand's Brief Description of Orkney, etc. (1683; reprinted 1 01; and again, Edinb. 1883); Martin's Description of the Western Islands of Scotland (1703; 2d ed. 1716; reprinted, Glasg. 1884); Eunson's Ancient and Present State of Orkney (Newcastle, 1788); Barry's History of the Orkney Islands (2d ed., Edinb. 1808); Peterkin's Rentals of the Ancient Earldom and Bishopric of Orkney (dinb. 1820), and his Notes on Orkney and Zetland (dinb. 1822); Sibbald's Description of the Islands of Orkney and Zetland by Robert Monteith of Egilsea and Gairsay, 1633 (Edinb. 1845); Balfour's Oppressions of the Sixteenth Century in the Islands of Orkney and Zetland (dinb. 1859); Clouston's Guide to the Orkney Islands (Edinb. 1862); Farrer's Maes-Howe (862); Gorrie's 1'ummers and Winters in the Orkneys; Dr Anderson's Orkneyinga Saga (Edinb. 1873); Fergusson's Age and Uses of the Brochs and Rude Stone Monuments of the Orkneyy Islands (Lond. 1877); Low,s Tour through the Istands of Orkney and Shetland in 1774 (Kirkwall, 1879); Walter Traill Dennison's Orcadian sketchbook (Kirkwall, 1880); J. R. Tudor's Orkneys and Shetland (1883); and the Rev. J. B. Craven's History of the Episcopal Church in Orkney (1883).
(F.H. Groome, Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1882-4); © 2004 Gazetteer for Scotland)
|Feature Description:||"a group of islands and islets" (ADL Feature Type: "archipelagos")|
|Administrative units:||Orkney ScoCnty|
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