Orkney I was born into was a place where there was no great difference between
the ordinary and the fabulous; the lives of living men turned into legend."
Orkney Islands have always been a place of mystery and superstition.
recent times, many of the islands' ancient sites were feared as fairy haunts and
therefore avoided at all costs. Numerous stories became attached to these locations
- tales of evil little creatures who would steal away
children, sicken cattle or terrorise
Elsewhere, cackling old witches
practised their "infernal arts" along craggy shorelines, while the spirits
of the restless dead flitted across a misty landscape.
the Norse settlers first arrived in Orkney, they carried with them tales from
Their stories of giants,
trolls, elves and dwarfs were soon transplanted from Norway's spectacular mountainous
landscape to Orkney's low green islands, adapting, mingling, and in some cases
supplanting, the indigenous lore of the islands.
giants all but vanished from folklore, unable
to find hiding places in Orkney's soft rolling hills, and the malevolant hill
spirits encountered by the Norsemen gradually became the trows
we know today, taking residence, along with fairy-folk
and hogboons, in the burial
mounds and cairns of Orkney's prehistoric people.
result is a rich cultural mix in which elements of Celtic tradition is inseperably
intertwined with Norse mythology and folklore.