3, Mar 2024
Orkney Islands

Orkney, also 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. Orkney is 10 miles north of the coast of Caithness and has about 70 islands, of which 20 are inhabited. The largest island, the Mainland, has an area of 202 square miles, making it the sixth-largest Scottish island and the tenth-largest island in the British Isles. Orkney’s largest settlement, and also its administrative centre, is Kirkwall.

The islands have been inhabited for at least 8,500 years.  They were absorbed  into the Kingdom of Scotland, following failure to pay a dowry promised to James III of Scotland by the family of his bride, Margaret of Denmark.

In addition to the Mainland, most of the remaining islands are divided into two groups: the North Isles and the South Isles. The local climate is relatively mild and the soils are extremely fertile; most of the land is farmed, and agriculture is the most important sector of the economy. 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. Daytime temperatures generally range between 5 °F in winter and 61 °F in summer.

The local people are known as Orcadians; they speak a distinctive dialect of the Scots language and have a rich body of folklore. 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. Orkney also has an abundance of marine and avian wildlife.

The mainland is the largest of the Orkney Islands and, Kirkwall is the centre town and main port. It is a Norse Viking town founded in 1035. The prehistoric sights of the Orkney’s are the biggest tourist attractions on the island. The Scapa Flow on Hoy is an old 20th Century naval complex built by Churchill in World War 2. which has a Visitors Centre and museum.

Off the shores of the mainland there are many ferry services to the northern and southern isles. Each have there own unique characteristics including historical sights, sea wildlife and natural landscapes.

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