example of the survival of the Norse language in Orkney's more remote
areas was documented by Scottish author Sir Walter Scott, after a visit
to the county in 1814.
"A clergyman, who was not
long deceased, remembered well when some remnants of the Norse
were still spoken in the island called North Ronaldshaw. When
[Thomas] Gray's Ode, entitled the "[The] Fatal Sisters", was first
published, or at least first reached that remote island, the reverend
gentleman had the well-judged curiosity to read it to some of
the old persons of the isle, as a poem which regarded the history
of their own country.
They listened with great
attention to the preliminary stanzas:
storm begins to lour,
Haste the doom of hell prepare,
Iron sleet of arrowy shower
Hurtles in the darkened air."
But when they had heard a verse
or two more, they interrupted the reader, telling him that they
knew the song well in the Norse language, and had often sung it
to him when he asked them for an old song.
They called it "The Magicians"
or the Enchantresses."
For more on this song/poem, known as the Darraðarljoð,