About Orkney

Those soft green hills, the ledged sea-cliffs, the shallow lochs, those curving sweeps of sand… the story of them all can be traced back, and much of the story goes back around 390 million years, to a time when the present-day rocks of Orkney were being laid down as sediment on the bed of an ancient lake.
Orkney geologist Dr John Flett Brown shows at the West Shore of Stromness the layers of rock that were once sediment in ancient Lake Orcadie.

You can see some of the fossil fish from ancient Lake Orcadie at the Orkney Fossil & Heritage Centre in Burray.

The most varied landscape of all is in Hoy – whose name aptly comes from the Norse for ‘high island’. Orkney wildlife photographer Raymond Besant used to spend his childhood holidays there, and has made a short film portrait of some of his favourite places. Raymond’s film on the fulmar – ‘The Flying Dustbin’ had its premiere in the 2007 Festival.

Hoy – the High Island from Raymond J Besant on Vimeo.

Meanwhile an invaluable starting-point for finding out more about Orkney is the VisitOrkney website. There you can find information about getting to Orkney, travelling around when you’re here, where to stay, what to see, and much else besides.

Another good place to start is the new Orkney.com website, with information and links to many aspects of the islands.

The island’s newspaper The Orcadian, publishes news, features and weather updates on the web, its site including Sky Notes and a link to its monthly magazine Living Orkney.

The island of Hoy is one of the wildest and most beautiful places within the Orkney Islands. I used to spend my childhood holidays here so it’s a special place to me. This film is a portrait of some of my favourite places on Hoy – the Kame of Hoy, Pegal burn and Rackwick beach.
Raymond J Besant, Vimeo
For history, archaeology and folklore, a widely-admired site is the Orkneyjar one. The site has been built up over the years by Sigurd Towrie as a labour of love, and includes the very latest information about current archaeological digs.

And if you want to research your Orkney roots, there’s Orkney Family History Society’s website Sib Folk.

The new magazine the Orkney Farmer provides much information about Orkney’s biggest industry, and copies are available free or can be downloaded from the magazine’s website.

We have features here on particular parts of Orkney where Science Festival events are taking place, including Deerness.