Orkney

  • Bere Bannock

    A bere bannock is a kind of flatbread made with bere, a barley-like grain which has been grown in Orkney for thousands of years, both for human and animal food. In the old days, it was called bygg and today is usually called corn in Orkney. Its cultivation on any scale is currently restricted to Orkney. Bere is still milled at the Barony Mill by Loch Boardhouse on Mainland Orkney and bags of the flour can be bought there, or in local village shops. If you're using it for bread-making, it will produce a heav... Read More

  • Clapshot

    Clapshot is a traditional Orkney recipe of tatties (potatoes) and swede (yellow turnip) and may be served with haggis, oatcakes, cold meats or sausages. Clapshot is sometimes called Clapshaw or Orcadian Clapshot. Further afield, clapshot is a traditional accompanyment to haggis.... Read More

  • Kirkwall Ba' Game

    One of a small number of such games still existing in Scotland, the Kirkwall ba' game takes place twice a year: Christmas Eve and Hogmanay. Its historical origins are unclear, but, in essence, it is a game of mass-football, played up and down the streets of the town centre, of the type that was once quite common in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK. It pits the 'uppies' against the 'doonies' (or 'up the gates' against 'down the gates'). The ba' itself is a hand-made, cork-filled leather ball. The allegieanc... Read More

  • Orkney Folk Festival

    Orkney Folk Festival started in 1982 and has established itself as an important event in both the Orkney and Scottish folk calendars. The festival is based in Stromness, however events also take place in Kirkwall, Deerness, Evie, Finstown, Harray, Hoy, Rousay and Sanday. There is a deliberate policy in the festival to combine local talent with well-known and talented musicians from further afield. The festival takes place every May. ... Read More

  • Orkney Yole

    The Orkney Yole is a small boat, possibly of Nordic ancestry built, primarily, for cargo-carrying duties. According to the Orkney Yole Association website, the yole may vary in length from about 13' to 22', but is more generally about 18' long by 7' or 8' of beam and draws about 2'. Variations occur according to the builder but there are two main categories - the North Isles Yole and the South Isles Yole. While the yole was once a central part of the economic life of Orkney, this has- perhaps inevitably- be... Read More

  • Ploughing March and Festival of the Horse

    The South Ronaldsay Boys' Ploughing Match and the Festival of the Horse This is an agricultural festival tradition - believed to be unique to Orkney - which dates back to at least the early 19th century but may have its roots in Viking times. This is a festival for young boys and girls from the island of South Ronaldsay, one of Orkney's south isles. There were similar festivals elsewhere in Orkney - particularly in the island of Stronsay (in which the "horses" were attached to the plough) but this is the... Read More

  • Pop Day

    At Hallow'een the children of the town of Stromness in Orkney carve turnips into amusing or grotesque heads and paint them in bright colours. They are solid, unlike the more common ‘neepie lanterns’. The children then go around the houses saying ‘A penny tae burn me Pop’ and receive small amounts of money. The origin of this goes back to the Reformation when it was the Pope who was being burnt in effigy, but it has changed over the years to become the innocent sounding ‘Pop’ with no sectarian... Read More

  • Wedding Cogs

    Wooden wedding cogs are vessels from which ale is consumed at Orcadian weddings. These cogs have long been a prominent feature of island weddings, and remain a prominent feature today. The exact mixture which now goes into the cog varies with every wedding, as each family tends to have its own views on the correct recipe. Despite the family variations, the base ingredients of this potent alcoholic mixture are usually hot ale, gin, brandy and whisky mixed with sugar and pepper. Traditionally, there were best... Read More

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