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The Folklore of Orkney
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Folklore & Mythology
Publication Date
01 June 2011
Birlinn Limited

The Folklore of Orkney

by Ernest Marwick - Find out more about the author

The Folklore of Orkney and Shetland is the standard account of what to this day is one of the richest repositories of lore and custom in Britain. The two island groups of Orkney and Shetland have much in common. In each the grey stone houses and treeless landscapes are scoured in winter by stinging gales, and in summer lie under the endless days of the 'simmer din'. Originally Norwegian, they have been part of Scotland for five hundred years, but their many and varied legends, folk tales and customs are still saturated with Norse influences. While this book tells tales and discusses beliefs that are known throughout the northern isles, it also outlines those elements which are unique to each island group. Ernest Marwick not only recounts countless tales which have been transmitted aurally and by writing, but also places these tales within geographical and historical contexts, thus enabling a deeper appreciation of this wonderful material. A bibliography is also included, together with an index of tale types and motifs.

Ernest Marwick was born 1915 in Evie, Orkney. His only formal education was at Evie School which he attended until he was 10, after that he was self-educated. He started off working on the family farm, but went on to become a distinguished scholar specialising in folklore, local history, and poetry. Additionally, he went into broadcasting and writing and editing. In 1960 he founded the first local radio programme Town and Country with the BBC. He was a regular presenter and interviewer for the programme and he went on to do over 800 broadcasts for the BBC. The Folklore of Orkney and Shetland was published in 1975 and he then went on to collect and assemble The History of the Orkney People in the Nineteenth Century. He died in 1977.