Welcome to the Orkney FolkLore and Storytelling Centre website. Here you’ll see the range of events and workshops that we offer for the general public including, visitors, local people, families and private groups.
The Orkney Folklore and Storytelling Centre sits in 3.5 acres on the A967 in the middle of the UNESCO world heritage site; ‘The Heart of Neolithic Orkney’. It is located in Sandwick just three miles from the Ring of Brodgar,the Ness of Brodgar archaeological dig and the Standing Stones of Stenness and only two miles from the Stone Age village Skara Brae,that sits in Skaill Bay on the North West Atlantic coast of Orkney’s Mainland Island.
PROGRAMME EVENTS OFFERED :
- PEATFIRE TALES OF ORKNEY EVENINGS- Tuesday,Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
- ISLAND FOLKLORE AND LEGENDS TALKS & TEA – enjoy listening to the social and work customs of past Orkney fishing & farming island communities -Saturday and Thursday afternoons.
- DAILY GUIDED HERITAGE WALKS-with a qualified STGA tour Guide – morning/afternoon or early evening
- THE STROMNESS HERITAGE GUIDED WALK – 400 years of the Stromness maritime heritage and town history – local seafaring characters of the past.
- THE SCAPS FLOW GUIDED COASTAL WALK -Scapa Flow history & wartime heritage – explore where natural beauty meets Island history.
- FAMILY AND CHILDREN’S STORYCIRCLES SESSIONS- for up to family groups of 6 people – morning or afternoon.
- TALES AROUND THE PEATFIRE – A BESPOKE,PRIVATE EVENING OR AFTERNOON -for your own group of 6 – 25 people- choose your own Orkney folk tales and legends,sharing in some of the Island social customs,traditional music and dance.
BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL FOR ALL EVENTS.
Come along to a unique Orkney Island experience and discover the oral and fireside heritage of the Islands’ fishing and farming peoples who worked the land and fished the seas around these North Atlantic Islands, or as George Mackay Brown, the Orkney writer called them in his Poem Cycle ‘The Fishermen With Ploughs’.
Storytellers have passed on folk tales, myths and legends in their own dialect since time began. In Orkney, the Islands old language, Norn, was superseded by the Scots ‘Mither Tongue’. There is a school of thought that from the late 15th Century this demise of the Norn language is in relation to the political and social history of these North Atlantic Islands.
Eventually lost as a spoken language, in Shetland it could have been as late as the 19th Century when the last islanders spoke Norn, only fragments of many old Orkney ballads,folk tales and legends remain. Two ballads still exist as complete pieces, one in Orkney Scots dialect, The Ballad of the Lady Odivere and one in old Orkney Norn, The Ballad of the Lady Hildina.
Throughout time, story is one of man’s oldest tools for communication, learning and the recording of individuals and their communities’ way of life. Stories, customs and beliefs passed on by ‘word of mouth’ from one generation to the next, the stories of the ordinary and the extraordinary, the great Kings and the little people, the magic and the monsters, the shadow and the light.
We invite you to sit in candlelight by the peat fire in our Folklore and Heritage library,browse and explore the old Orkney books, newspapers, and prints,ponder a moment on the 19th Century photographs of the past islanders who worked the land and fished the seas for many generations around these North Atlantic Islands.
Discover our Hamnavoe Room with Contemporary Orkney Writers’ books, Island Craft books, children’s Orkney stories and books along with contemporary images of Orkney.
Spend time in our ‘Peedie’Folk Art Gallery ‘seeing’ island stories
and folk tales in pastels and pencil,inks, pen,prints,Folklore and legend cards and portrait images of
Sit in the Folk Art Studio around the big peat fire, surrounded by wall murals and collages of the Orkney legends and myths, alongside models,masks and puppets of the Island Folkloric characters and creatures. Listen to the Peatfire Tales Of Orkney from ‘the time before time….when legends were true…’
‘ The Enchanting tongues went on and on beside the fish oil lamps,then the grey of morning entered the crofts,and called the islanders back to their hard work of ploughing and fishing’
George Mackay Brown