35 Facts About Orkney


Orkney, known as the Orkney Islands, is an archipelago in the Northern Isles of Scotland, situated off the north coast of the island of Great Britain.

FactSnippet No. 984,701

Orkney is 10 miles north of the coast of Caithness and has about 70 islands, of which 20 are inhabited.

FactSnippet No. 984,702

Orkney is one of the 32 council areas of Scotland, as well as a constituency of the Scottish Parliament, a lieutenancy area, and an historic county.

FactSnippet No. 984,703

Orkney was colonized and later annexed by the Kingdom of Norway in 875 and settled by the Norsemen.

FactSnippet No. 984,704

The significant wind and marine energy resources are of growing importance; the amount of electricity that Orkney generates annually from renewable energy sources exceeds its demand.

FactSnippet No. 984,705

Orkney contains some of the oldest and best-preserved Neolithic sites in Europe; the "Heart of Neolithic Orkney" is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

FactSnippet No. 984,706

The most impressive Iron Age structures of Orkney are the ruins of later round towers called "brochs" and their associated settlements such as the Broch of Burroughston and Broch of Gurness.

FactSnippet No. 984,707

Orkney was succeeded by his son Thorfinn Skull-splitter and during this time the deposed Norwegian King Eric Bloodaxe often used Orkney as a raiding base before being killed in 954.

FactSnippet No. 984,708

In 1468 Orkney was pledged by Christian I, in his capacity as King of Norway, as security against the payment of the dowry of his daughter Margaret, betrothed to James III of Scotland.

FactSnippet No. 984,709

In 1745, the Jacobite lairds on the islands ensured that Orkney remained pro-Jacobite in outlook, and was a safe place to land supplies from Spain to aid their cause.

FactSnippet No. 984,710

Orkney was the site of a Royal Navy base at Scapa Flow, which played a major role in World War I and II.

FactSnippet No. 984,711

The problem of a declining population was significant in the post-war years, though in the last decades of the 20th century there was a recovery and life in Orkney focused on growing prosperity and the emergence of a relatively classless society.

FactSnippet No. 984,712

Orkney was rated as the best place to live in Scotland in both 2013 and 2014, and in 2019 the best place to live in the UK, according to the Halifax Quality of Life survey.

FactSnippet No. 984,713

Orkney is separated from the mainland of Scotland by the Pentland Firth, a ten-kilometre-wide seaway between Brough Ness on the island of South Ronaldsay and Duncansby Head in Caithness.

FactSnippet No. 984,714

Orkney is separated from the Shetland Islands, a group farther out, by a body of water called the Fair Isle Channel.

FactSnippet No. 984,715

Orkney is administered by the Orkney Islands Council, a unitary island council created in the Scottish local government re-organization in 1975.

FactSnippet No. 984,716

Orkney's parishes were replaced by 20 CCA's covering 34 rural settlements.

FactSnippet No. 984,717

Superficial rock of Orkney is almost entirely Old Red Sandstone, mostly of Middle Devonian age.

FactSnippet No. 984,718

Devonian and older rocks of Orkney are cut by a series of WSW–ENE to N–S trending faults, many of which were active during deposition of the Devonian sequences.

FactSnippet No. 984,719

Orkney has a cool temperate climate that is remarkably mild and steady for such a northerly latitude, due to the influence of the Gulf Stream.

FactSnippet No. 984,720

Orkney is represented in the House of Commons as part of the Orkney and Shetland constituency, which elects one Member of Parliament, the current incumbent being Alistair Carmichael.

FactSnippet No. 984,721

Soil of Orkney is generally very fertile and most of the land is taken up by farms, agriculture being by far the most important sector of the economy and providing employment for a quarter of the workforce according to a 2008 report.

FactSnippet No. 984,722

Fisheries off Orkney are only half as important to employment as in Shetland, and farming is roughly twice as important.

FactSnippet No. 984,723

Orkney has significant wind and marine energy resources, and renewable energy has recently come into prominence.

FactSnippet No. 984,724

Kirkwall Airport in Orkney was scheduled "to have its heat and power decarbonised through green hydrogen as part of a new project" starting in 2021.

FactSnippet No. 984,725

Orkney is served by a weekly local newspaper, The Orcadian, published on Thursdays.

FactSnippet No. 984,726

Orkney had a commercial radio station, The Superstation Orkney, which broadcast to Kirkwall and parts of the mainland and to most of Caithness until its closure in November 2014.

FactSnippet No. 984,727

Moray Firth Radio broadcasts throughout Orkney on AM and from an FM transmitter just outside Thurso.

FactSnippet No. 984,728

Orkney is home to the Orkney Library and Archive, located in Kirkwall, Scotland, on the mainland.

FactSnippet No. 984,729

Orkney has a rich folklore, and many of the former tales concern trows, an Orcadian form of troll that draws on the islands' Scandinavian connections.

FactSnippet No. 984,730

Best known literary figures from modern Orkney are the poet Edwin Muir, the poet and novelist George Mackay Brown, and the novelist Eric Linklater.

FactSnippet No. 984,731

However, at least two tartans with Orkney connections have been registered and a tartan has been designed for Sanday by one of the island's residents, and there are pipe bands in Orkney.

FactSnippet No. 984,732

Orkney has an abundance of wildlife, especially of grey and common seals and seabirds such as puffins, kittiwakes, black guillemots, ravens, and great skuas .

FactSnippet No. 984,733

Inland the Orkney vole, a distinct subspecies of the common vole introduced by Neolithic humans, is an endemic.

FactSnippet No. 984,734

Stoats are accomplished predators and pose a very serious threat to Orkney's wildlife, including: the native Orkney vole, hen harrier, short-eared owl and many ground nesting birds.

FactSnippet No. 984,735