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Geography question[edit]

Is The Ayre (the causeway between Hoy and South Walls) a natural phenomenon, or is it artificial? If it's artificial, when was it constructed? -- Finlay McWalter | Talk 14:13, August 23, 2005 (UTC)

Ah, the ever reliable Undiscovered Scotland says it's artificial, built in WW2. -- Finlay McWalter | Talk 14:25, August 23, 2005 (UTC)


I'm wondering what people think, would this page be better at Orkney. Orkney islands seems a bit superfluous, does it not? Calgacus (ΚΑΛΓΑΚΟΣ) 21:39, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

Tend to agree. Same with Shetland Islands. --Mais oui! 21:53, 29 July 2006 (UTC)
OK. It seems like an uncontroversial move. If no-one objects to it, we need to get an admin to move it/them. If there is some objection, we'll need to hold a poll. Agreed? Calgacus (ΚΑΛΓΑΚΟΣ) 21:54, 29 July 2006 (UTC)
As far as it goes, any registered user can do it easily enough. Why is it such a good idea though? We have Shetland Islands, would you want to move this as well? Currently, Orkney redirects to Orkney Islands and that seems OK to me. What is gained by moving it? --Guinnog 22:04, 29 July 2006 (UTC)
Well, in the case of Orkney, the word already incorporates a word for island. Reminds me of those signs you see for "Inchmurrin Island", the word Inch meaning island. Anyways, the main reason is simplicity. Do you object to this? BTW, Orkney already has a history beyond being a redirect, so cannot the move cannot happen at the hands of an ordinary user. Calgacus (ΚΑΛΓΑΚΟΣ) 22:07, 29 July 2006 (UTC)
Simplicity is good. Consistency appeals to some people as well. Without, I admit, having looked into it, I think there is a house style at work here. I don't much mind which one is the main article; I prefer either to Orkneys which is the other possibility. But I feel strongly that Scotland's two north-eastern island groups should be consistently named. Your knowledge of the etymological tautology embodied in the name will not be shared by most users; consider that Ochil Hills, not Ochils is the main article, which would logically have to change according to the tautology argument. Perhaps you could investigate whether there is a Geography MoS policy on the naming matter, and consider the Shetland consistency question as well. These are the two main issues for me in accepting your proposal. --Guinnog 22:19, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

<reduce indent> Both my wee guide book mentioned above and Orkneyjar use both forms, so either seems to be acceptable, even though it is actually saying "Boar Islands islands" or something of that sort. As long as we don't say "the Orkneys", though that seems to be arguable. My preference is for both Orkney and Shetland to be used without the "Islands", shorter is good and a redirect will catch those who type in islands. Haven't checked any MoS. ...dave souza, talk 22:31, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

Well, I just have, and it would seem to be up to us. Wikipedia:Naming conventions (places) has "Follow local conventions...The testimony of locals and people familiar with the country should be considered above Google evidence. Google is very likely to have many results from news organizations and wire services. These remote reporters may be ignorant about local naming standards."
It also has (and this makes sense) "Maintain consistency within each country", so, as I thought, we should probably ensure that Shetland is treated the same way.
I might just be swinging towards a move; however, I think a decision like this should have nore than 2 or 3 editors making it. What do others think?--Guinnog 03:45, 30 July 2006 (UTC)

Would the plural "Orkneys" be totally unacceptable? Anyway, the "islands" can be dropped away. Marrtel 22:00, 30 July 2006 (UTC)

surely we should ask those who live there what it is called? in my opinion, having been to both, the inhabitants call them "Orkney" and "Shetland" and indeed these are the official names also. perhaps Orkadian who made the recent comments below could comment on thisAbtract 07:34, 19 September 2006 (UTC)
It would for me. Since Orkney is a redirect to here, moving this to Orkney seems like the Right Thing. Same for Shetland. Angus McLellan (Talk) 19:05, 20 September 2006 (UTC)
I have requested a move or renamimg at Wikipedia:Requested moves September 20, please vote or comment there. It seems clear they are called Orkney and Shetland so the articles should reflect that. Abtract 22:39, 20 September 2006 (UTC)
It is rather silly grammatically. Calgacus and some of the local edits are wrong - Orkney isn't plural in Norse any more than it is in English. If anything, the appeal to Norse (Orkneyjar = Orkneys) counts against them; but locals go with Orkney, and we should respect that and be consistent within Britain. So the Orkneys = the Orkney islands, geologically; Orkney = the government on the Orkney islands under the British. - (talk) 07:57, 15 June 2009 (UTC)

Category:Islands of Scotland vs. Category:Orkney[edit]

Category:Orkney is itself a category within Category:Islands of Scotland. — Robert Greer (talk) 04:12, 4 March 2009 (UTC)

Clean-up check list[edit]

  • Norwegian rule - largely unreferenced. Yes check.svg Done - but may be too long.
  • post 15th century history - largely unreferenced. Yes check.svg Done
  • Modern Orkney - unreferenced - rename to "20th century". Yes check.svg Done
  • Islands - too long and list like. Yes check.svg Done
  • Geography - unreferenced and should be moved to above islands. Yes check.svg Done
  • Geology - largely unreferenced. Yes check.svg Done
  • Economy - largely unreferenced. Yes check.svg Done
  • Well-known Orcadians - unreferenced and seemingly indiscriminate. Removed.
  • Natural history - missing. Yes check.svg Done
  • Population trends - missing. Yes check.svg Done
  • See also audit. Yes check.svg Done
  • External links - needs a quick audit. Yes check.svg Done
  • Tidy up references
  • Fix lead per WP:MOSYes check.svg Done
  • Add alt text.

Ben MacDui 13:08, 6 September 2009 (UTC)

Map please[edit]

A map of the island group, showing where the various islands are located, would be useful (such as the one on the Welsh language site)Ehrenkater (talk) 21:32, 19 September 2009 (UTC)

There is an aerial image that may be useful for your requirements on wiki commons.

Richard Harvey (talk) 08:54, 20 September 2009 (UTC)

This one at right might be useful too. --John (talk) 09:29, 20 September 2009 (UTC)

Good one... Ben MacDui 15:10, 20 September 2009 (UTC)

If you would find it useful I can produce a version of File:OrkneyGeologyMap.png without the geology. Just let me know which towns, headlands, bays, hills etc. you want marked and I'll add them. Mikenorton (talk) 09:12, 21 September 2009 (UTC)

I actually like the MapOrkney.gif, which just about covers all the bases (currently used in Geog. section). I don't know if its possible but an English language version would be helpful. Ben MacDui 17:58, 21 September 2009 (UTC)

A while ago I completed File:Wfm shetland map.svg, which comes from a pretty flexible layered system (so I can highlight different colours, and turn on and off different subject layers). For a supposed cooperation-of-the-week on History of the Orkney Islands I started to draw the Orkney equivalent I began drawing File:Wfm orkney map.png, but gave up because no-one else seemed to care about it (somewhat worryingly that incomplete map is used 27 times on different Wikipedias). So if this map would be used much, and someone with some local knowledge is willing to answer a few questions I'll have on it, then I can finish it to the same standard as the Shetland one. The matter of how to simply illustrate the location of individual islands was discussed on Talk:Shetland/Archive 1#New_map - comments please, again without resolution. To my mind one of the simpler designs would make a more useful location map than the full Scotland map we currently use on articles like Copinsay. -- Finlay McWalterTalk 10:53, 21 September 2009 (UTC)

I agree that an archipelago map is more useful for the island articles then the Scotland wide one. However I suggest raising this at WP:ISLET for a general discussion. Ben MacDui 17:58, 21 September 2009 (UTC)

Another map for your consideration, I was half way through modifying it, so I thought I'd finish it. No problem for me if it's not used. Mikenorton (talk) 13:59, 23 September 2009 (UTC)

Àrcaibh or Arcaibh ?[edit]

What is the correct Scottish Gaelic for Orkney, Àrcaibh or Arcaibh? The article contains both forms. (And yes, I understand that common practice used to be to drop accents from capitals and that sources may suffer from this unfortunate practise.) But only one form is right and the article needs to be consistent, and a citation is needed. Leaving aside problems with orthography in the written sources, native speakers either do or do not pronounce the first vowel long, and if you wish to maintain that the vowel is long then that should be supported with evidence. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:49, 27 December 2009 (UTC)

The short form is correct. I've added better refs - Dieckhoff fortunately records the phonetic realisations and he clearly has the short vowel. Akerbeltz (talk) 15:16, 31 December 2009 (UTC)

Surely the gaelic translation should be removed from the page? Orkney has no Gaelic connections, and therefore surely shouldn't be included. Thoughts? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Darlo2k4 (talkcontribs) 11:25, 7 May 2014 (UTC)

Politics - factoid[edit]

I note the article on the UK constituency has this (unreferenced) claim: "The constituency has elected only Liberal and Liberal Democrat MPs since 1950, the longest run of any UK constituency." If a source can be found for this, it should be added to the politics section of hte Orkney article. Cheers, hamiltonstone (talk) 00:30, 9 February 2010 (UTC)

Done and thanks, Ben MacDui 18:11, 9 February 2010 (UTC)

In looking at the constituency article, it is not clear if it is being suggested that it is the longest held seat by any Liberal, or by any party. (link) implies that it is but does not say so in so many words. A bit more research needed. Ben MacDui 18:18, 9 February 2010 (UTC)

It may well be the longest held by some definitions, but it was held by the Libs and now the Lib Dems - so does that really count? Also, this may be as much because the seat has remained stable than because no others have been so consistent - there has been lots of boundary commission tinkering with the names etc. - see e.g. Merthyr Tydfil (UK Parliament constituency) - which as been Labour since 1950, but is now Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (UK Parliament constituency). Ben MacDui 18:29, 9 February 2010 (UTC)

well, i must admit i read the claim as only being about longest held liberal / LD seat, rather than any party. hamiltonstone (talk) 00:17, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

Papar project[edit]

I've removed this link from external links per WP:ELNO, but it may contain leads to relevant reliable sources, so I'm leaving it here for editors as a resource:

Cheers, hamiltonstone (talk) 04:33, 30 April 2010 (UTC)


As i pointed out on the Gaelic Wiki, where did you get these names from? Akerbeltz (talk) 15:59, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
They are in any case not really relevant to this article or even the island ones unless there is some evidence that the names are pre-Viking (which would be very interesting) rather than modern. Ben MacDui 15:18, 26 February 2011 (UTC)
I doubt they're historic somehow. For one thing (ignoring the -aidh misspelling), Ueastraidh is an impossible form for a Gaelic word older than a couple of centuries. As is Siàpansaidh. They look made up except for Sanndaigh which exists elsewhere. Akerbeltz (talk) 22:15, 26 February 2011 (UTC)
As far as I'm aware the only certain pre-Viking Gaelic Orkney name is Innse Orc (of which Orkneyjar probably originates as a calque), and this seems to be unused in modern Gaelic. Modern Gaelic has gotta have some names for these places, given the number of Scottish government documents being made available in Gaelic (in the same way modern Irish has countless similar unhistoric names); they don't have resources for this, like maps or English to Gaelic placename pdfs? Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 13:16, 27 February 2011 (UTC)
Re the first sentence above, that is my understanding although the word may have a Pictish origin - see Northern Isles. Ben MacDui 15:24, 27 February 2011 (UTC)
The word is Celtic in origin; the British/Irish/Pictish distinction, if it every made any sense for Orcadian Celtic, did not exist when the word was coined (attested [perhaps] from the 4th century bc). Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 15:35, 27 February 2011 (UTC)

Not really. There are two areas of Scotland where Gaelic speakers have always conceded that Gaelic never was a local majority or even significant minority language, Orkey/Shetland and most of the area east of Edinburgh. At best, some Gaelic speakers will have "passed through". On the whole the approach is to respect this linguistic non-Gaelicness by using the Norse-derived names (i.e. whatever they're called on an English map), except for the two island groups as a whole (Arcaibh/Sealtainn). It's never seen as an area where Gaelic should be made visible or promoted and as a result, I've never seen any document that tried to coin or use modern Gaelic names for the individual islands. At best, it would be OR par excellence I'd say. Akerbeltz (talk) 17:42, 27 February 2011 (UTC)

As far as I know, OR is not a policy of the government bureaucrats. ;) You are right that the Northern Isles have widespread recognition as 'non-Celtic' areas, but it is widely agreed that Celtic was spoken in Orkney before Norse (the precise question of whether this can be classified as Pictish, 'Gaelic' or 'British', is pretty meaningless and/or anachronistic). I don't think we should see these as related issues though. It should not be significant or controversial if Gaelic writers have to put places like Stronsay in the orthography of their language, and has nothing to do with history. Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 18:16, 27 February 2011 (UTC)
Mostly agreed except on the adaption of orthography. There *might* at some point be some call to do so, but the above are badly done apart from the endless debates these would cause on Wikipedia, which is why my personal position is "nice try but without a really good source, that's as far as it goes". Akerbeltz (talk) 18:20, 27 February 2011 (UTC)
The Hebrides have the same kind of names (etymologically), they've just got 'authentic' Gaelicized spellings. The Northern Isles probably need guys like yourself to come up with spellings analogous to the Hebridean ones (as far as patterns exist) and then make them official (I'm talking about for Scottish life, not wiki). But of course, I agree that the spellings need reliable sources to be on wiki. Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 18:28, 27 February 2011 (UTC)
Yes. If I had to come up with something, it would be Hòigh, Raghnallsaigh a Deas, Rinneasaigh a Tuath, Trolsaigh, Sanndaigh, Strònsaigh, Beastraigh, Aoidheigh, Seupansaigh to make it fit better with the normal rules of engagement for loans. Ah well, onwards... Akerbeltz (talk) 23:01, 27 February 2011 (UTC)
Re "the precise question of whether this can be classified as Pictish, 'Gaelic' or 'British', is pretty meaningless and/or anachronistic". Don't get this. Are you saying that c. 300 BC these languages had not yet diverged? Ben MacDui 19:05, 28 February 2011 (UTC)
We don't know the details of this. It is even possible that Celtic wasn't widely spoken in Ireland c.300 BC. Some Celtists put the break up of insular Celtic into the early medieval period; there is no way of knowing if and how it 'broke up' in the areas that are not Wales or Ireland/western Scotland. Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 19:22, 28 February 2011 (UTC)

I love it when historians tie themselves in knots ;) Given the neat geographic split between Ireland (ultimately Goidelic) and the mainland (ultimately Brythonic - I'm including Pictish in this group) could easily lead to strong linguistic divergence. Consider Sardinia and Italy, the Channel Islands and France, Soqotri and Arabia... Anyway, even if they hail from the same migration wave, the assumption that makes me smile is that some people deduce from that that they all spoke the same lingo. Ever been on a ship full of migrants? If you turn to linguistically better documented languages, say the Anglo Saxon invasions of England, they hardly point to linguistic unity. Akerbeltz (talk) 19:38, 28 February 2011 (UTC)

"I love it when historians tie themselves in knots ;)" – and Celtic knots are so beautiful... --Thnidu (talk) 04:15, 8 December 2014 (UTC)
The act of selecting this kind of parallel presupposes the parallel, and for this argument is circular (though Asia Minor and Greece c. 6th century bc is more likely to be a better one). There is no neat geographic split between Ireland and Britain (the distance is insignificant in Kintyre and the Rhinns of Galloway), though there is between Ireland and Wales. It is pretty hard to see how the split could emerge in the transitional zone. Like the Germans who settled in south-east Britain in late antiquity, there is no reason to believe the Celts who came 500 to 1000 years before were able to replicate continental differences (if these even existed) beyond the mythology of elite lineage fiction; T.M Charles-Edwards has an interesting paper in this regard in relation to the Anglo-Saxons. Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 19:47, 28 February 2011 (UTC)

Orkneyinga Saga references[edit]

It is not necessary, in my view, to repeatedly refer to the primary source in the text, especially if it is clear from the citation. It is true that the Orkneyinga Saga needs to be treated cautiously, but to the best of my knowledge its contents are not seriously contradicted by other sources, even if the stories are not always corroborated. Books about Orkney tend to take it as read, mostly of course because there is virtually no other information about early Orcadian history. I think it is reasonable to reflect that here. Ben MacDui 15:18, 26 February 2011 (UTC)

technically plural?[edit]

I've removed this:

Furthermore, technically "Orkney" is already plural.

If "Orkney" were plural, the article would read "Orkney are..." rather than "Orkney is..." The cited source says

Strictly speaking the name is already plural as "Orkney" is simply a shortened version of the Old Norse "Orkneyjar", meaning "Seal Islands"

This is a type of etymological fallacy, albeit one of morphology rather than semantics. "Strictly speaking" or "technically" do not mean the same as "etymologically" or "formerly". jnestorius(talk) 13:11, 25 April 2011 (UTC)

Point taken, but I think the concept is of interest and I will try to create a more accurate note to that effect. Feel free to amend if it proves to be furtherly fallacious. Ben MacDui 16:04, 25 April 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, I've reverted your edit; it's not local usage "Orkney" that is plural, it's the outsider usage "The Orkneys". In any case, there is already a section Orkney#Origin of the name which mentions the seals. The section could be renamed to, say, "Name" and the footnote promoted to there. However, I am wary of presenting the situation as some kind of ongoing controversy with arguments offered by locals in favour of "Orkney" and arguments offered by outsiders in favour of "The Orkneys". One can certainly say something to the effect that
"Orkney" is the official and local name; "The Orkneys" has often been used by outsiders and perhaps sometimes by outside officials; locals dislike "The Orkneys" and/or regard it as incorrect
But I would not advise any more detail unless from a source which is highly authoritative. Similar distinctions apply to many places; the relevant generic article is exonym and endonym. Sometimes there are two completely unrelated names, sometimes it's a difference in pronunciation of a single name; the "Orkney" vs "The Orkneys" case is somewhere in between. Rather than bluntly saying "I don't like this", it's tempting to say "I don't like this because..." even if the justification offered is half-baked. The existence of variant names can be presented as a fact without being treated as an anomaly needing special explanation. jnestorius(talk) 20:51, 25 April 2011 (UTC)

Incorrect labels on map in Geography Section[edit]

A recent edit to the alt text for this map commented that the name labels for the islands of Egilsay and Wyre are the wrong way round, which indeed they are. The map will need to be updated. Mikenorton (talk) 20:44, 27 April 2012 (UTC)

Replaced with your png map from above discussion and left a note on Commons. Ben MacDui 14:51, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
My map had the same mistake for some reason - I think that I must have used the existing map for naming the smaller islands, but I updated it yesterday. Mikenorton (talk) 15:42, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
Good timing! Ben MacDui 15:47, 28 April 2012 (UTC)


I have added a number of images, where the text was lacking illustration, but have never yet mastered "alt text". I know this is not required for "good article" status, but can anyone add this to match the other images on the page? If the article is ever nominated for "featured article", this will, of course, be a requirement. Skinsmoke (talk) 12:29, 11 May 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for this. I can fix the alt text easily enough if needed. I moved two or three about to reduce clutter at the top of the article (on my browser) and removed the pipe band image. This last was here before and it generated a little controversy - even if it is hard to come up with an alternative shot it is I think a case of WPUNDUE. Pipe bands etc do exist as the text says but they have barely more relevance to Orcadian traditions than Morris dancing.
A more important issue is that the text of the images needs to be referenced, especially if it is not already ref'd in the article. I will fix what I can asap but the sheep, aircraft and ferry texts do need something and it would be helpful if you could find them. I am not sure "evolved" is the correct word in relation to the sheep - "bred"? Ben MacDui 08:26, 12 May 2012 (UTC)

Métis people[edit]

I fail to see the link with Métis people, given in the "See also" section. Can anyone explain what on earth this Canadian group has to do with Orkney? Skinsmoke (talk) 12:32, 11 May 2012 (UTC)

When the link was first added it was to Anglo-Métis rather than Métis people — I'm not sure it's really relevant as a "see also" here though. Should we just remove it? --Deskford (talk) 13:09, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
My recollection is that the linked article did make some reference to Orkney, but that seems to be gone and in any case it seems to be a tenuous connection. Agreed and done. Ben MacDui 08:09, 12 May 2012 (UTC)
Many Metis Canadians are descended from Orcadians that came to Canada in the employ of the company. So are many status indians with scottish names like Spence and others. The Hudson's Bay archive is available online at if anyone is interested. The importance of the link between the company and the metis is minor in terms of the modern company but historically quite firm rather than tenuous. And thousands of people across North America can trace their ancestry back to this group (and some might be quite surprised that they are the offspring of a scotsman and a country wife). (talk) 18:35, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

Connection to Hudson's Bay Company[edit]

"In the 17th century, Orcadians formed the overwhelming majority of employees of the Hudson's Bay Company in Canada."

Is it the case that Orcadians formed the majority only in the 17th century, that is during the 30 years between incorporation in 1670 and 1700. There is no citation and it is pretty commonly accepted that Orcadians formed a large cohort (though perhaps not an overwhelming majority) during the 18th century also. Is this statement true as it stands? Did the author of this statement really mean the 1700s (i.e. the 18th century)? Or is it just false? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:22, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

Imperial or metric units tons/tonnes[edit]

This relates specifically to the amount of kelp burnt on Shapinsay.

The primary figure is 3048 tonnes. This suggests a level of accuracy which cannot have been intended in the original source (although this figure may have been used in the quoted source as a conversion from the original).

Clearly the original source would have referred to 3000 tons. Does anyone have any preference if this is amended to either refer to the primary figure of 3000 tons with the tonne conversion provided as a secondary, or should it simply be amended to 3000 tonnes without any conversion (the statement that over 3000 tonnes were burnt still holds true)? Mattojgb (talk) 11:44, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

WP:UNIT (like many other parts of our guidelines) seems to be different than when I last looked so I think you can use "3000 tons with the tonne conversion provided as a secondary". Ben MacDui 19:11, 6 August 2013 (UTC) PS I see you've only made a few edits - just let me know if you need any help with this. Ben MacDui 19:13, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

Depiction in movies[edit]

Orkney Island is the main location of the movie The Spy in Black. Maybe an appropriate section could be created with this tidbit of information. AugustinMa (talk) 11:48, 31 August 2014 (UTC)

Lock article in run up to and aftermath of Scottish independence vote[edit]

As hard as it might be for people to imagine, the existence of Orkney as fundamentally part of Scotland is about to become incredibly politicised due to the Scottish independence debate. I strongly advocate locking the article until well after the terms of separation are settled to avoid Wikipedia being used as a political football. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:02, 8 September 2014 (UTC)


I've always found it difficult to follow trends from a column of numbers, and I'm probably not the only one. So I made a graph and added it to §Overview of population trends. I couldn't figure out how to get it placed nicely in wikicode, or in the wikitable that the numbers are already in, so I used plain HTML, which seems to have worked properly. --Thnidu (talk) 04:18, 8 December 2014 (UTC)