Islands in the North

Orkney oneChristina here and I have once again been travelling in search of inspiration for my stories – this time to the Orkney Islands! These are situated in the far north of the UK, in between the Scottish mainland and Shetland, and the journey involved a 12-hour road trip by car with another hour and a half by ferry. It was worth every second!

As always, I was on the trail of the Vikings and they settled in the Orkney Islands during the 8th and 9th centuries (possibly before that). If you sail in a straight westerly direction from the southern part of Norway you end up either in Orkney or Shetland, and it was an easy journey in a Viking longship, only a couple of days’ sailing. Therefore, it made sense that it was one of the first places the Vikings went to when they set off on their adventures.

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The Magic of Standing Stones

FirstChristina here. There are certain places that feel timeless and really evoke the past, and stone circles, standing stones and cairns always have that effect on me. What is it about them that draws us in and has fascinated people for so long? Perhaps it’s the sheer mystery of the how and why? Because we can’t be sure exactly what they were used for, they make our imagination run riot. It’s easy to picture ceremonies honouring the sun, moon or stars, perhaps featuring druids in flowing white robes, chanting and dancing. Who knows if that ever actually happened, but it’s a nice fantasy.

FourIn the past couple of weeks, I’ve been lucky enough to come across two places featuring such ancient monuments, and each time I found myself spellbound. They have a certain aura and just being among them gives us a feeling of awe and of stepping back in time. Most such monuments were built thousands of years ago, but they are so well constructed they’ve survived and stood the test of time. It’s mind-boggling when you consider the enormous amounts of work and manpower that must have been required, and the primitive tools in use back then. I never tire of watching programmes with theories as to how it was accomplished.

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Viking Scotland

Pat here:

PuffinsAs our regular readers know, I traveled with Mary Jo into the wilds of Scotland—Orkney and Shetland, (map) not the Highlands. Mary Jo wanted to see ponies, puffins, seals, and farm crofts. I wanted to see Neolithic ruins and castles. Both of us did our best to sample the culture, the Croft housedialects, and the distinct differences in landscape. I’m not sure what that says about us, but we’ll never completely cover all that northern Scotland has to offer.

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