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.
We offer traditional Orkney evenings, workshops and courses that combine island legend, lore and social customs with music song and dance.
The Orkney FolkLore and Storytelling Centre sits in the heart of the UNESCO world heritage site; ‘The Heart of Neolithic Orkney’. It is located in Sandwick just three miles from the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness and two miles from the stone age village Skara Brae.
At the Orkney FolkLore and Storytelling Centre we offer Peatfire Tales of Orkney, evenings of traditional Island storytelling that combines legend, lore and social customs with music, song and dance. The Centre’s programme of events include Children and Family StoryCircles workshops The Power Of Story courses and summer schools for and in The Still Room Whisky Bar in the Stromness Hotel, May – September, evenings of Island Tales and Ales.
Come along to a unique Orkney Island experience and discover the oral and fireside heritage of the Islands’ fishing and farming peoples and communities 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 In Orkney, the Islands old language, Norn, was superseded by the Scots ‘Mither Tongue’.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, sagas and legends remain. Two such pieces, one in Orkney Scots dialect, The Ballad of the Lady Odivere and one in Norn, The Ballad of the Lady Hildina still exist as complete Orkney legends.
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.
You are invited to sit in candlelight by the peat fire in the Folklore and Heritage library and browse through the Island customs and social heritage, exploring the old Orkney books, newspapers, prints and photos of the Islanders who worked the land and fished the seas around Orkney.
Discover our Hamnavoe Room with Contemporary Orkney Writers’ books, Island Craft books and children’s Orkney stories and poems.
Come into the Folk Art Studio around the big peat fire, surrounded by the wall murals and collages of Orkney legends, surrounded by the masks and models, images and puppets of the Island Folkloric characters and creatures. Listen to the Orkney stories from ‘a time before time….when legends were true…’
“We cannot live life fully without the treasury our ancestors have left us”
George Mackay Brown