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Welcome to the Orkney FolkLore and Storytelling Centre website. Here you’ll see the range of events and workshops that we offer for all ages, local people, families,school groups,community groups and private bespoke 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-  Every Tuesday,Friday and Sunday.
  • FIRESIDE AFTERNOONS-enjoy the traditions of these North Atlantic Islands,sitting around the peat fire with afternoon tea and Orkney Beremeal biscuits.Listen to the legends, Folklore and social customs of past Orkney fishing & farming peoples and communities –Thursday and Saturday afternoons.
  • COMMUNITY GROUPS – DRAMA & STORYCIRCLES SESSIONS – All community and educational groups welcome – Explore & Discover how to create your own themes,stories and characters for your own projects.
  • YOUNG TELLERS OF TALES SESSIONS – StoryCircles Programmes For school children from pre-school to primary Seven…Stepping Stones….Discovery…. Communication Arts.
  • FAMILY AND CHILDREN’S STORYCIRCLES SESSIONS- for up to family groups of 6 people – morning or afternoon by arrangement.
  • HIGHLANDS & ISLANDS STORIES- A BESPOKE,PRIVATE EVENING / AFTERNOON -for your own group’s celebration ( 6 – 30 people) Choose from our programme of Stories &  Legends from the Highlands & Islands, sharing in some of the Scottish social customs,traditional dances and music.
  • THE POWER OF STORY – BESPOKE COURSES & SUMMER SCHOOLS Learn how to be the Weaver of Tales explore this ancient oral tradition.All welcome (18 years +) Of  particular value to those working with children and adults with special educational needs,mental health issues and elderly people and arts students.

BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL FOR ALL EVENTS.

Come along to a unique Orkney Island experience and discover the oral and fireside heritage of the Highland and 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’.

Orkney Storytelling CentreStorytellers 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 from the island of Foula in Shetland,in the old Norn language,, 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.

lynn-barbour-interview

We invite you to sit  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 myths,and folk tales in pastels and pencil,inks, pen,prints,the Orkney Folklore and legend Story cards.

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.All created from beachcombing, flotsam & jetsom & recycled materials.

Listen to The Peatfire Tales Of Orkney  from ‘The time before time….when legends were true…’ or create your own folkloric characters,creatures and storyboards in our Family  & Children’s StoryCircles sessions.

‘ 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