The New History of Orkney

By William P.L. Thompson

Format: Paperback

Like Shetland, Orkney was heavily influenced by Viking traders and raiders from Scandinavia, and for a long period it formed an outlying part of the kingdom of Norway. This guide covers the mysterious islands of Orkney ranging in its breadth from prehistoric settlements to contemporary controversies of oil and, also Scandanavian allegiance.

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Birlinn Limited

Birlinn publishes mostly non-fiction books, ranging from biography to history, military history and Scottish interest. Their imprints, Polygon Books, Arena Sport Books and John Donald Books, publish a wide variety of genres including culture, literary fiction, poetry and sports.

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When the first editor of William Thomson's "History of Orkney" was published in 1987 it was the first new history of the islands to appear for over fifty years. The Orcadian greeted it with the words: 'So far as Orkney history is concerned, Mr William Thomson has written the book of the century.' In this long-awaited second edition, new work sheds light on the Picts, the Vikings, medieval Orkney, the Reformation and the Stewart earldom, as well as many aspects of more recent centuries. For much of its history, Orkney existed as one of Europe's sub-nations, with its own language, culture and institutions. The prehistoric inhabitants produced monuments which are unmatched anywhere in Europe, and the medieval period saw the magnificent earldom that expressed itself through the Orkneyinga Saga and the building of St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall.Like Shetland, Orkney was heavily influenced by Viking traders and raiders from Scandinavia, and for a long period it formed an outlying part of the kingdom of Norway. Over 500 years ago, however, the islands lost their Scandinavian links and since then have had a sometimes difficult association with mainland Scotland.

More recent times have seen the use of Orkney as a strategic stronghold during two world wars, and the far-reaching impact of oil and gas exploitation in the North Sea. It is an enthralling story, masterfully summarised and retold, and of interest to readers far beyond the rocky shores of Orkney itself.

Additional Information

Additional Information

Format Paperback
Imprint Birlinn Limited
Publication Date 27 May 2008
ISBN 9781841586960
Number of Pages 544

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Press Reviews

'A serious work, full of new insights and distilled information from the dozens of articles and books on Orkney history published in recent times'

'Scholarly but well-written, hugely informative but lightened by flashes of humour and always illuminated by robust good sense'

'Fuller, better-balanced and more critical than previous histories of Orkney ... scholarly and timely'

'The story is woven with great diligence, depth of research and skill in this new edition which brings us bang up-to-date'

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