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Thursday, January 15, 2004

Orkneyjar 

Keeping with yesterday's Vikings-in-Scotland theme, I wanted to link to Orkneyjar, which has tons of information about the Orkney islands. When we went to Scotland in 2002, we didn't make it all the way up to the islands, but after browsing around the site a bit, I'm a little disappointed we didn't make it far enough north to see Skara Brae, the Ring o' Brodgar, and other Orkney Heritage sites.

The site also includes some information about Orcadian, Pictish, and Norn, including some folktales in Orcadian.

[ASIDE:The University of the Highlands and Islands Millennium Institute has its mission statement and linguistic and cultural policy statement online in English, Scots, Gaelic, Orcadian and Shetland, providing a quick and easy way to compare the different languages.]

Digging around, I was surprised to learn that, because of its history and how Orkney and Shetland came to be part of Scotland, Orkney has a claim to be governed under udal law instead of common law. The Shetland & Orkney Udal Law Group (SOUL) has a lot of information about the old Norse law system and the history of law in Shetland and Orkney (in the context of restoring udal law).

I guess its a sign of one danger of devolution: just as Scotland is gaining more power from London, but now Orkney and Shetland are seeking a greater degree of separation from Edinburgh. The case SOUL outlines looks convincing, but how it would work practically and what it would mean (particularly in regards to fishing and mineral rights) is far from clear.

To round things out, Saltfishforty is a Orcadian duo with some too-short samples of quite fun music on its site.

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