Fine Folk ~
Orcadians past and present

... and all the other fine folk in Orkney!

Bryce Wilson's illustration of a mermaid from Tom Muir's Orkney folklore book, The Mermaid Bride, Orkney Islands, Scotland, UK

Orcadians are an inspiring bunch.

Something about these northern islands seems to stimulate bold and creative ventures.

And no wonder. Orkney is enchanting. It’s a place for dreaming and exploring ... for getting carried away. 

Hopefully not by the trowies.

Severe trowie shortage

Sadly, we don't have much contact with the peerie folk these days.

But we sometimes get characters like these!

There seems to be a magnetic quality to the crisp breezes billowing over these islands. I suppose that's why visitors are drawn back to the islands of Orkney again and again.

We're entranced by the cycles of light and the darkness, by the awe-inspiring landscape and by Orkney's charming people - the Orcadians.

Blackening at the Merket Cross, St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney Islands, Scotland, UK

Those fascinating Orcadians

Since moving to Orkney, I've noticed that these islands produce an unusually high number of creative folk.

They seem to think nothing of it,  practicing their arts as casually as they change clothes.

Viking totem beach art by Orcadian Willie Budge, Orkney Islands, Scotland, UK

Orkney gathers inventive reinforcements, too.

Makers and dreamers who began life elsewhere are drawn to the islands, taking their places in pleasing communities of writers, artists, scientists, musicians, archaeologists, stone carvers, potters ...

... and any other discipline a body cares to practice. Like telling stories under the moon?

Is there something in the water here?

Maybe it’s genetic, passed down from the Neolithic creators with their elegant, painted, slate-roofed temple complex at the Ness of Brodgar. 

Ancient Orcadians carved wee human figures into whalebone and stone.

They beautified their cooking pots with elaborate designs and polished stone axes until they glowed with deep, swirls of color. 

It appears that our ancient ancestors appreciated grace of form, just as we do.

Colin Watson, Anne Bignall and Tom Muir made this Viking runic bench. Osmundswall, Hoy, Orkney Islands, Scotland, UK.Colin Watson, Anne Bignall and Tom Muir collaborated on this Viking runic bench. You can see it in Osmundswall, Hoy.

I'm sure these ancient island folk took their time moving through their days. Working in stone, I guess they had to. 

They built aesthetically pleasing places for their dead, as well as practical and snug places where the living would dwell.

Patiently they sat through long, winter nights huddled close in piles of furs, murmuring old stories and working carvings into stone balls by the dim of early oil lamps.

I wonder if they they experienced time in the same way that we do?

Many centuries have passed over the islands since then. Many peoples from different lands have been born here, and have died.

Like me, some who live here today have come from far away to make Orkney their home

Tom and Rhonda Muir of at the Ring of Brodgar, Stenness, Orkney Islands, Scotland, UK

Tom and I would like to introduce you to the fine folk of Orkney - incomers and locals - from days gone by and those whose time is nearer to our own. 

We hope that these conversations and forays into the misty past will encourage you to create a life of beauty and meaning, wherever you may dwell.

Hoy High light house, Graemsay, Orkney Islands, Scotland, UK

Be inspired

Tom and Rhonda Muir
Oceanallover performance, Brinkie's Brae, Stromness, Orkney Islands, Scotland, UK

Contemporary fine folk in Orkney

Fine folk of the past

Fine folk with Orkney connections

More fine folk!

Find out why Scotland's Orkney Islands are such a creative place full of interesting people at

Mermaid image (Rhonda's pages) and storyteller image (Tom's pages), and all other illustrations except where noted are here by the courtesy of our dear friend - Stromness author, artist and historian, Bryce Wilson MBE, who owns all copyrights. Thanks, Bryce!

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