Northern Isles: Shetland

Shetland relief mapby Mary Jo

I've already blogged about the RNA conference in Leeds and our wonderful visit to Orkney. Now it's time for the last chapter of our journey: Shetland, the island group that is the farthest northern reach of the archipelago that is Great Britain. The islands are due west of Norway, and the ties between Norway and Shetland are ancient and deep. Shetland has over 100 islands, about 15 of which are inhabited.

Like Orkney, Shetland was never a Celtic land, and the ancient language was Norn, which influences the present day dialect. Our fine driver/guide, Grant Redfern, said that when he had Norwegian customers, they could understand him, but to his annoyance, he couldn't understand when they spoke in Norwegian. <G>

IMG_3384Shetland is the farthest northern splash of the archipelago that is the British Isles, and Shetland is closer to Bergen, Norway than it is to Edinburgh. Smack dab in the middle of the sea routes from Norway, it was a jumping off place for Viking western explorations.


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More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Sheep

Joanna here, wandering into historical byways of no particular use. 

You know the phrase, “I’ve done my research and now you’re going to suffer for it”? Comes up when somebody – an author for instance – is so pleased with what she knows that she lays ALL the facts on the poor Reader. So the Hero and Heroine stop on their elopement to consider the history of casting church bells in the bell field.

With me, right now, it’s sheep.

Wench phot jorghempel

Here you got a wild and free mouflon, the original sheep
photocredit jorjhempel

I’m working on a scene in which there are sheep in the distance. Unimportant sheep. Sheep without any plot role. Sheep that may not even get into the final draft.

So I’m going to lay some random historical sheep facts on you because  I have them.

Sheep are fortunate among domestic animals. In recent millennia their economic value lay in their milk and fleece and not so much as sheep stew, which gave some of them a long and toil-free life. Ewes earned their place in the Bronze Age economy as long as they kept sporting the curly white and having lambs.


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