Viking Scotland

Farm
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.

For one thing, stating the obvious, Orkney and Shetland are islands. We had to fly or ferry from one to the other. I think Vikings could travel faster than we could. They’d just pop onto a ship Shetlandand row off. We had to wait in terminals for the fog to lift or on massive ferries that took all night to travel from one island to another. (see the map above—we went from Kirkwall to Lerwick on one flight) So we had to choose the easiest ports and islands and pray for good weather. It is painfully obvious that our ancestors were made of stronger stock than we are!

In the interest of seeing as much as possible without getting lost along the way, we hired tour guides in each area. They created easy day tours where we could see a broad swathe of the islands we visited while lingering as we wished on each site. History here dates back to possibly 7000 years BC, so you can’t kick a rock without stumbling over it.

Jarlshoff1While I was intellectually fascinated by the Neolithic ruins like Skara Brae and Jarlshof and standing stones at the Ring of Brodgar and marveled over how people so ancient could be so sophisticated, I’ll admit I was more emotionally involved in later periods. The tales of St Magnus, who was apparently far too saintly to live as a king, fascinated me. The cathedral built in his name was one of the most moving I can remember entering. The Barony mill that’s been in  business for 300 years was a work of art. It grinds barley that can only be found in this area and the bannocks the meal produces are beyond scrumptious.

I can give you links with better descriptions and photographs than I can produce here, but it’s StMagnus cathedralimpossible to understand what it’s like to walk the land people have been traversing for thousands of years, seeing the marvels they created from little or nothing. And this doesn’t even touch on the beauty of nature itself, the inlets and heather and wildlife and wildflowers everywhere.

I’ll have to talk about Edinburgh another time, rightfully so, since it’s a different world entirely. Have you been to Scotland? What did you think? And if you haven’t been, what would you like to see if you could go?

 

 

105 thoughts on “Viking Scotland”

  1. In 1997 my husband, my oldest daughter, and I did a 12 day tour of Great Britain, which included Scotland (but not Wales). It was a whirlwind tour. We had hoped to go back and really see the place. We we did have a good rapid view of the lowlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and two of the Lochs.
    I truly wish we could go back and REALLY see the place but I’m afraid our traveling days are past.
    I treasure our memories of the trip (the English part also).

    Reply
  2. In 1997 my husband, my oldest daughter, and I did a 12 day tour of Great Britain, which included Scotland (but not Wales). It was a whirlwind tour. We had hoped to go back and really see the place. We we did have a good rapid view of the lowlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and two of the Lochs.
    I truly wish we could go back and REALLY see the place but I’m afraid our traveling days are past.
    I treasure our memories of the trip (the English part also).

    Reply
  3. In 1997 my husband, my oldest daughter, and I did a 12 day tour of Great Britain, which included Scotland (but not Wales). It was a whirlwind tour. We had hoped to go back and really see the place. We we did have a good rapid view of the lowlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and two of the Lochs.
    I truly wish we could go back and REALLY see the place but I’m afraid our traveling days are past.
    I treasure our memories of the trip (the English part also).

    Reply
  4. In 1997 my husband, my oldest daughter, and I did a 12 day tour of Great Britain, which included Scotland (but not Wales). It was a whirlwind tour. We had hoped to go back and really see the place. We we did have a good rapid view of the lowlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and two of the Lochs.
    I truly wish we could go back and REALLY see the place but I’m afraid our traveling days are past.
    I treasure our memories of the trip (the English part also).

    Reply
  5. In 1997 my husband, my oldest daughter, and I did a 12 day tour of Great Britain, which included Scotland (but not Wales). It was a whirlwind tour. We had hoped to go back and really see the place. We we did have a good rapid view of the lowlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and two of the Lochs.
    I truly wish we could go back and REALLY see the place but I’m afraid our traveling days are past.
    I treasure our memories of the trip (the English part also).

    Reply
  6. Thank you Pat, for another lovely travelogue. Eager to hear about Edinburgh since it is featured in so many books I read. So glad you ladies (and gents) had a lovely time.

    Reply
  7. Thank you Pat, for another lovely travelogue. Eager to hear about Edinburgh since it is featured in so many books I read. So glad you ladies (and gents) had a lovely time.

    Reply
  8. Thank you Pat, for another lovely travelogue. Eager to hear about Edinburgh since it is featured in so many books I read. So glad you ladies (and gents) had a lovely time.

    Reply
  9. Thank you Pat, for another lovely travelogue. Eager to hear about Edinburgh since it is featured in so many books I read. So glad you ladies (and gents) had a lovely time.

    Reply
  10. Thank you Pat, for another lovely travelogue. Eager to hear about Edinburgh since it is featured in so many books I read. So glad you ladies (and gents) had a lovely time.

    Reply
  11. I got to go to Scotland for the first time last year. I hope it won’t be my last. We mostly saw Edinburgh and then drove over to Skye. I would love to see more of that beautiful country.

    Reply
  12. I got to go to Scotland for the first time last year. I hope it won’t be my last. We mostly saw Edinburgh and then drove over to Skye. I would love to see more of that beautiful country.

    Reply
  13. I got to go to Scotland for the first time last year. I hope it won’t be my last. We mostly saw Edinburgh and then drove over to Skye. I would love to see more of that beautiful country.

    Reply
  14. I got to go to Scotland for the first time last year. I hope it won’t be my last. We mostly saw Edinburgh and then drove over to Skye. I would love to see more of that beautiful country.

    Reply
  15. I got to go to Scotland for the first time last year. I hope it won’t be my last. We mostly saw Edinburgh and then drove over to Skye. I would love to see more of that beautiful country.

    Reply
  16. it was delightfully cool, the perfect timing! I don’t like cold and had taken a lot of layers, but didn’t need anything but the occasional jacket or scarf. But you have to be ready for nearly 24 hour night in winter!

    Reply
  17. it was delightfully cool, the perfect timing! I don’t like cold and had taken a lot of layers, but didn’t need anything but the occasional jacket or scarf. But you have to be ready for nearly 24 hour night in winter!

    Reply
  18. it was delightfully cool, the perfect timing! I don’t like cold and had taken a lot of layers, but didn’t need anything but the occasional jacket or scarf. But you have to be ready for nearly 24 hour night in winter!

    Reply
  19. it was delightfully cool, the perfect timing! I don’t like cold and had taken a lot of layers, but didn’t need anything but the occasional jacket or scarf. But you have to be ready for nearly 24 hour night in winter!

    Reply
  20. it was delightfully cool, the perfect timing! I don’t like cold and had taken a lot of layers, but didn’t need anything but the occasional jacket or scarf. But you have to be ready for nearly 24 hour night in winter!

    Reply
  21. But it’s wonderful you had a chance to see what you have. So many people don’t even try. I’d done the same as you, a whirlwind tour, so it was wonderful to spend some actual time there. I’ll blog on Edinburgh next–now there’s one fabulous city!

    Reply
  22. But it’s wonderful you had a chance to see what you have. So many people don’t even try. I’d done the same as you, a whirlwind tour, so it was wonderful to spend some actual time there. I’ll blog on Edinburgh next–now there’s one fabulous city!

    Reply
  23. But it’s wonderful you had a chance to see what you have. So many people don’t even try. I’d done the same as you, a whirlwind tour, so it was wonderful to spend some actual time there. I’ll blog on Edinburgh next–now there’s one fabulous city!

    Reply
  24. But it’s wonderful you had a chance to see what you have. So many people don’t even try. I’d done the same as you, a whirlwind tour, so it was wonderful to spend some actual time there. I’ll blog on Edinburgh next–now there’s one fabulous city!

    Reply
  25. But it’s wonderful you had a chance to see what you have. So many people don’t even try. I’d done the same as you, a whirlwind tour, so it was wonderful to spend some actual time there. I’ll blog on Edinburgh next–now there’s one fabulous city!

    Reply
  26. I’ve been three times, the latest visit two years ago. My mother was born there, and six of my great-grandparents were Scots. A seventh was from Ulster, and I squeaked into the DAR through the eighth! I love the Scottish landscape, the food, the blunt but cheerful people I’ve met, and, of course, the chance to meet relatives. I hope to return to do some genealogy and see the places my father’s inhabited. I also,have Scottish relatives in Australia and Canada.

    Reply
  27. I’ve been three times, the latest visit two years ago. My mother was born there, and six of my great-grandparents were Scots. A seventh was from Ulster, and I squeaked into the DAR through the eighth! I love the Scottish landscape, the food, the blunt but cheerful people I’ve met, and, of course, the chance to meet relatives. I hope to return to do some genealogy and see the places my father’s inhabited. I also,have Scottish relatives in Australia and Canada.

    Reply
  28. I’ve been three times, the latest visit two years ago. My mother was born there, and six of my great-grandparents were Scots. A seventh was from Ulster, and I squeaked into the DAR through the eighth! I love the Scottish landscape, the food, the blunt but cheerful people I’ve met, and, of course, the chance to meet relatives. I hope to return to do some genealogy and see the places my father’s inhabited. I also,have Scottish relatives in Australia and Canada.

    Reply
  29. I’ve been three times, the latest visit two years ago. My mother was born there, and six of my great-grandparents were Scots. A seventh was from Ulster, and I squeaked into the DAR through the eighth! I love the Scottish landscape, the food, the blunt but cheerful people I’ve met, and, of course, the chance to meet relatives. I hope to return to do some genealogy and see the places my father’s inhabited. I also,have Scottish relatives in Australia and Canada.

    Reply
  30. I’ve been three times, the latest visit two years ago. My mother was born there, and six of my great-grandparents were Scots. A seventh was from Ulster, and I squeaked into the DAR through the eighth! I love the Scottish landscape, the food, the blunt but cheerful people I’ve met, and, of course, the chance to meet relatives. I hope to return to do some genealogy and see the places my father’s inhabited. I also,have Scottish relatives in Australia and Canada.

    Reply
  31. Archaeology News had an article a few days ago about Neolithic axles found on Orkney.
    The book I associate with the islands is Alistair Maclean’s San Andreas, wjewh several of the characters are from there.

    Reply
  32. Archaeology News had an article a few days ago about Neolithic axles found on Orkney.
    The book I associate with the islands is Alistair Maclean’s San Andreas, wjewh several of the characters are from there.

    Reply
  33. Archaeology News had an article a few days ago about Neolithic axles found on Orkney.
    The book I associate with the islands is Alistair Maclean’s San Andreas, wjewh several of the characters are from there.

    Reply
  34. Archaeology News had an article a few days ago about Neolithic axles found on Orkney.
    The book I associate with the islands is Alistair Maclean’s San Andreas, wjewh several of the characters are from there.

    Reply
  35. Archaeology News had an article a few days ago about Neolithic axles found on Orkney.
    The book I associate with the islands is Alistair Maclean’s San Andreas, wjewh several of the characters are from there.

    Reply
  36. I rather like that spelling of “where.” 😉
    The digs in Orkney are beyond fascinating and so very meticulous! I know Ann Cleaves is the famous writer most people speak of from the area. I’ll have to look for Maclean!

    Reply
  37. I rather like that spelling of “where.” 😉
    The digs in Orkney are beyond fascinating and so very meticulous! I know Ann Cleaves is the famous writer most people speak of from the area. I’ll have to look for Maclean!

    Reply
  38. I rather like that spelling of “where.” 😉
    The digs in Orkney are beyond fascinating and so very meticulous! I know Ann Cleaves is the famous writer most people speak of from the area. I’ll have to look for Maclean!

    Reply
  39. I rather like that spelling of “where.” 😉
    The digs in Orkney are beyond fascinating and so very meticulous! I know Ann Cleaves is the famous writer most people speak of from the area. I’ll have to look for Maclean!

    Reply
  40. I rather like that spelling of “where.” 😉
    The digs in Orkney are beyond fascinating and so very meticulous! I know Ann Cleaves is the famous writer most people speak of from the area. I’ll have to look for Maclean!

    Reply
  41. I can’t even blame autocorrect.
    MacLean no doubt died before you were born. I am unsure of his birthplace, though he is described as Scottish, which many from Orkney disavow, I understand.

    Reply
  42. I can’t even blame autocorrect.
    MacLean no doubt died before you were born. I am unsure of his birthplace, though he is described as Scottish, which many from Orkney disavow, I understand.

    Reply
  43. I can’t even blame autocorrect.
    MacLean no doubt died before you were born. I am unsure of his birthplace, though he is described as Scottish, which many from Orkney disavow, I understand.

    Reply
  44. I can’t even blame autocorrect.
    MacLean no doubt died before you were born. I am unsure of his birthplace, though he is described as Scottish, which many from Orkney disavow, I understand.

    Reply
  45. I can’t even blame autocorrect.
    MacLean no doubt died before you were born. I am unsure of his birthplace, though he is described as Scottish, which many from Orkney disavow, I understand.

    Reply

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