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Welcome to the Orkney FolkLore and Storytelling Centre website. Here you will see the range of Orkney Storytelling and Heritage events, courses and workshops that we offer for all ages of visitors, local people, families, school groups, community groups as well as bespoke Orkney storytelling and traditional Island events for private parties.

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-Tuesdays,Fridays and Sundays –A traditional Orkney that combines legend,lore and social customs with music,song and dance.
  • FIRESIDE AFTERNOONS-enjoy the traditions of these North Atlantic Islands,sitting around the peat fire while Listening to the legends, Folklore and social customs of past Orkney fishing & farming peoples and communities –Thursday and Saturday afternoons.
  • FAMILY AND CHILDREN’S STORYCIRCLES SESSIONS- Maximum groups number -8 people Monday,Wednesday,Saturday or Sunday mornings or afternoons by arrangement.
  • MAGICAL STORIES (Of The Islands & Highlands)- A BESPOKE,PRIVATE EVENING / AFTERNOON -for your own group’s celebration ( 6 – 30 people) Choose from our programme of Stories &  Legends from the Islands and Highlands, discover some of the Orkney & 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 in the fields of educatiion,sepcial education,mental health and social care.Greatly benefits students who wish to go into further studies in Drama,performing Arts,Dance and Physical Theatre studies.

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

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 maps,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 story books along with contemporary 20th Century 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 and prints, take away an Orkney Folklore and legend StoryCards or Heritage leaflet

Sit in the Folk Art Studio around the big peat fire, surrounded by the 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