Three events are taking place next month as part of Vikings, Pirates, and Shipwrecked Princesses – a project recording folklore attached to Orkney names – and Book Week Scotland 2022.
Tuesday, November 1, 2022
Cromarty Hall, St Margaret’s Hope
Storytellers: Neil Leask and Ragnhild Ljosland
With a contribution from members of Orkney Blide Trust.
Come and hear the legends of how families and places in Orkney got their names. It is said in South Ronaldsay that Bruce’s Barn is named after the time when Robert the Bruce sought refuge here.
Meanwhile, the Cromarty family are said to have been originally Douglas or Urquhart and sought refuge in South Ronaldsay after being hounded by King James II. Seeking to hide, they changed their name. Meanwhile, the Goodsir family are said to descend from a survivor from a German vessel shipwrecked on Lowther Rock.
Friday, November 11, 2022
Westray Heritage Centre, Pierowall
Raggie is hoping to hear from Westray folk about stories and legends relating to placenames and family names.
In Westray there was a surname Angel. The story goes that a Russian ship came ashore on Westray, and the only survivor was a little boy. He couldn’t say his name, but the wrecked ship had the name Archangel on it, so the boy was named Archie Angel. He grew up in Westray and later married a local girl, Jane Drever, and so Archie Angel became the ancestor of the Angels.
Examples of placename stories are Gentlemen’s Ha, which is a cave in Rapness said to have been used as a refuge by Jacobite lairds, or the Gullie Bank, where some fishermen accidentally dropped a knife (gullie) overboard which they had taken off a sheep thief.
Wednesday, November 16, 2022
Orkney College, lecture theatre
Storytellers: Marita Lück and Ragnhild Ljosland
With contribution from members of Orkney Blide Trust.
Come and hear the legends of how families and places in Orkney got their names. For example, a shipwreck survivor from the Spanish Armada was called Sebastian. Orkney folk found this name difficult to pronounce, so his descendants became known as the Sabistons.
The Clouston family were, according to legend, descended from a baby who was found abandoned on a doorstep. He had a ball of wool – a “clew” – and a stone beside him, and therefore got the name Clew-Stone.
The Gentlemen’s Ha is a cave where Jacobites hid after the Battle of Culloden, the Fairy Gate is where the fairies make their way to the hills, and Puldrite is where the notorious Viking Sweyn Asleifarson pulled right.
Vikings, Pirates, and Shipwrecked Princesses, is part of Scotland’s Year of Stories and supported by the Orkney Islands Council Culture Fund and the Scottish Book Trust.