The the Orkneys ( Orkney Islands in English) are a Archipel located at the north of the Scotland. This archipelago counts 67 slightly undulating islands, from which 16 only are inhabited. The few 20.000 orcadiens live for the majority on the principal island, Mainland, in the towns of Kirkwall and Stromness.
GeographyThe Pentland Firth is the strait which separates the Orkneys from the Scottish continent . The distance is of 11 km between Brough Ness, on the island of South Ronaldsay, and Duncansby Head, in the county of Caithness.
The Orkneys extend between 58° 41 ' and 59° 24 ' from northern latitude, and 2° 22 ' and 3° 26 ' of western longitude; they are spread out over 80 km of the North-East in south-west, over 47 km of the east in the west, and cover a Superficie of 973 km ². Except on the Western coasts of the principal islands, which offer landscapes to remarkable cliffs cut out at the same time for their beauty and their color, the group of islands presents few reliefs and offers a naked aspect.
The most undulating island is Hoy: the culminating point of the Orkneys, Ward Hill, is there. Only the other islands comprising of the important tops are Mainland, with Ward Hill (268 m) and Rousay with Wideford Hill. The majority of the islands have logs (lakes); the Log off Harray and the Loch off Stennes on Mainland reach appreciable proportions. The rivers are mainly torrents coming the heights. Except on the west coast of Mainland, Hoy and Housay, the littoral of the islands is very cut out and the islands themselves are separate one of the other by straits generally called sounds or firths , although particular denominations are also used: Bring Deeps for the arm of the sea in the North-East of Hoy, Scapa Flow for bay in the south of Mainland or Fall off Warness in the south-west of Eday.
The name even of the islands indicates their nature; the termination has or ay drift of the Scandinavian ey meaning island , apparent termination in the names Pomona (old name of Mainland) and Hoy . The small islands are usually called holms and the isolated rocks skerries .
The currents of tide, or roost like are called certain locally according to a Icelandic word, are violent one with broad of the majority of the islands and the swirls, sometimes enough powerful to endanger a small boat, frequently appear.
The charm of the Orkneys does not lie as much in their ordinary physical characteristics that in the splendid atmospheric effects that one meets there, extraordinary plays of shade and light and rich colors of cliffs and the sea.
The Orkneys islands are known for their absence of trees, partially explained by the abundance of wind (although the climate in general is moderate). The peat formation proves that the trees were not always absent, and it is thought that a deliberated deforestation took place at one period former to the Neolithic era, the use of the stone in sites such as Skara Brae attesting of the lack of wood for constructions.
The majority of the grounds are occupied by farms and agriculture is by far the most important sector of the economy with the fishing, which also constitutes a major occupation. The Orkneys export beef, cheese, whiskey, beer, fish and seafood.
ClimateAlthough located by 59° of Northern latitude, the Orkneys profit from the effects of the Gulf Stream which softens this wet climate: the thermometer hardly goes down below 5° in winter and goes up only to 20° in summer. The annual average temperature is of 8°. The winter months are January, February and March, this last being coldest. Spring never starts before April, and it is only mid-June that the temperatures become pleasant. September is often the most pleasant month and, at the end of October or at the beginning of November, the peedie summer or small summer, period of softer time, can take place.
On the other hand, the wind which blows with force 3 the summer, can reach force 8 the winter, with gusts exceeding 90 km/h. The summer, the days are long (18 H in June), the winter rather short with 6:00 of day. The sun rises to 3:00 and lie down with 21:25 during the longest day of the year, whereas it rises to 9:10 and lie down with 15:17 for the shortest day.
The annual average of precipitations varies between 850 mm and 940 Misters Of the fogs appear during the summer and the beginning of the autumn, and of the important storms place four or five times in the year has, during which one intends the waves of the Atlantic to be crushed on the coasts to 30 km with the round.
See also: Count of the Orkneys
Four thousand years before Jesus-Christ, of the Pictes leave the Highlands and cross Pentland Firth to settle in the Orkneys then uninhabited. Of these first occupants, the islands preserve many testimonys: underground dwellings, structures ( earth-houses ), tumuli and cairns, brochs and circles of megaliths.
Occupied by the Vikings or IXe century the islands are directed by a Jarl , which also reigns on the the Shetland. A saga, the Orkneyinga saga, recalls the history of the Jarls of the Orkneys. The islands are then directed by " Jarls" or " Comtes" of Scottish origin resulting from the families of Atholl, Angus and finally of Strathearn.
Passed under Danish domination with Norway, the Orkneys, as well as the Shetland, are finally yielded to the Scotland in 1469: they belong to the dowry of Marguerite of Denmark which marries the king Jacques III of Scotland.
The amount of equips was fixed at 60.000 guilders whose Orkneys given guarantees some to the amount of 50.000 guilders. The king Christian Ier of Denmark father of married having joined together at the time of the marriage only 2.000 guilders, it added the Shetlands to cover the 8.000 unpaid guilders. Never the money was versed from where the annexation of the islands by Scotland in 1471.
InheritanceAt Kirkwall, principal city of Mainland:
- the Saint-Magnus cathedral,
- the episcopal palate (Bishop' S De luxe hotel),
- the palate comtal (Earl' S De luxe hotel),
- the museum of Tankerness House.
Other remarkable sites of Mainland:
- Skara Brae (on the west coast), the prehistoric site most extraordinary of the Orkneys,
- the circle of stones of Brodgar (Boxing ring off Brodgar),
- the tumulus of Maes Howe,
- the raised stones of Stenness (Stenness Standing Stones),
- Skaill House (close to Skara Brae), remains seigneuriale 17th century,
- the Broch off Gurness,
- the memorial of Lord Kitchener,
- the cairn of Cuween Hill (on the northern coast),
- the Tomb of the Eagle (close to Burwick, on the southern part).
- colonies of marine birds on cliffs of the point of Marwick Head,
- the distilling Highland Park, most septentrional of Scotland.
- the bay and historic site of Scapa Flow
LanguageThe spoken language in these islands remained the Vieux norrois (language derived from the old Scandinavian) until about 1750, before being replaced by the English. This Scandinavian heritage remains very marked today still, in the Orkneys as in the Shetland.
- Saga of Orcadiens , translated by Jean Renaud, Editions SAPWOOD, 1990 ISBN 2-7007-1642-6.
Simple: Orkney Islands
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