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Reception and Construction of the Norse Past in Orkney


Sebastian Seibert

How have the people of Orkney dealt with the historical circumstance that their islands had been a Norse earldom during the Middle Ages? This thesis analyses sources from the late 18th century up to today in order to show how images of the Norse past have been constructed. It can be seen that Orcadian reception of the islands’ Norse past has changed during the centuries. Sometimes ensuing construction of the past has been influenced by larger cultural ideas such as the Northern Renaissance. However, the islands have also produced many individuals interested in local history and culture. These people are largely responsible for the image of the Norse past in Orkney.
Contents: Reception and construction of the past – Norse heritage – Early Orcadian historiography and folklore – Orkney historians J. S. Clouston, H. Marwick and W.P.L. Thomson – Viking enthusiasm past and present – Orcadian toponymy – Archaeological remains – SS Magnus and Rognvald – Authors G.M. Brown and E. Linklater.