The Orkney Islands is a group of 70 islands and it’s situated at the northern tip of Scotland at the latitude 59* North. At the biggest island named the Mainland, you find the administrative centre, Kirkwall. It has about 7000 citizens and is one of two towns at the islands. The other one is Stromness with 2000 inhabitants. The Orkney Islands got about 20 000 citizens, which makes it the part of Scotland with fewest inhabitants.
For over 600 years, Orkney belonged to Norway, so many of the names, like Orkney and Kirkwall, are Norse.
In the last centuries there have been a lot of sighting of mythical sea serpents. In Stronsay, the first and maybe most well known of a series of episodes took place in 1808. The carcasses of a beast were washed ashore by one of Orkney’s notorious gales. The corpse was described as a 55 feet long sea creature, with grey and rough skin. This sight even made it to the newspapers.
The Stronsay beast was given the Latin name Halsydrus Pontoppidani, named in honour of the Norwegian bishop of the eighteenth century who collected reports of sea-monsters. The name Halsydrus Pontoppidani means Pontoppidan’s Water Snake of the Sea.
In the ninth century Norwegians came to the islands. They used them as bases for their Viking raids. About the year 875, Harald Hårfagre took control over the Orkney Islands. Norwegians had control over the islands until the fifteenth century.
The Orkney Islands have their own Folk Festival which has been contributing to the musical and cultural life of Orkney since 1982. It’s an important event both for the Scottish people and the Orcadians. Visitors come from all around the world, staying in Stromness, where the festival takes place. Some of the events at the festival are concerts, dances, stomps, pub sessions and Fiddlers Rally.