Oral History Project for Orkney’s North Isles

The North Isles Landscape Partnership Scheme has commissioned Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology & Orkney College UHI to undertake an exciting new project to collect an oral history of the North Isles of Orkney.

Photo B Bell

The National Lottery Heritage Funded two-year project involves ORCA Archaeology teaming up with Dr Tom Rendall from Orkney College UHI and Dr Sarah Jane Gibbon of the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute to interview, record and analyse the spoken history of these distinct and unique island communities.

Project Director Tom Rendall said:

“The project will help us understand the detailed local events and people that have shaped the culture and heritage of these islands, and how the memories, experiences and reminiscences inform the present.”

Dr Rendall will be visiting the islands of Sanday, Westray, Eday, Papa Westray, North Ronaldsay, Shapinsay, Stronsay, Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre talking with local people. The plan involves interviewing not only the older members of the community, but also, unusually for a project such as this, the younger folk and those recently moved to the islands.

Topics for discussion will include examining the evolving cultural diversity of the islands and investigating how those new to the isles help to maintain life in an island community by embracing local heritage and culture – in effect carrying on a tradition of migrants to the isles from Viking to modern times.

The project will also help to explore the connections between the isles and raise awareness of the changing and vibrant culture on these islands. The team will also help to develop skills through training in interview and archiving techniques to pass knowledge on that could be used in the future.

If you want to hear more about this exciting project then contact the ORCA Archaeology team through their email enquiries.orca@uhi.ac.uk

You can also join the conversation through Twitter on #northislesnarrative

The North Isles Landscape Partnership Scheme (NILPS) is a £4.5m project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Environment Scotland, OIC, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and LEADER that will support projects to promote the culture, heritage and landscape of the North Isles and will run until 2023. 

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