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The Lay of the Last Minstrel

by Sir Walter Scott

From Canto Sixth, XXI.

Then from his seat, with lofty air,
Rose Harold, bard of brave St. Clair;
St. Clair, who, feasting high at Home,
Had with that lord to battle come.
Harold was born where restless seas
Howl round the storm-swept Orcades;
Where erst St. Clairs held princely sway
O'er isle and islet, strait and bay;—
Still nods their palace to its fall,
Thy pride and sorrow, fair Kirkwall!
Thence oft he mark'd fierce Pentland rave,
As if grim Odin rode her wave:
And watch'd the while, with visage pale,
And throbbing heart, the struggling sail;
For all of wonderful and wild
Had rapture for the lonely child.

    And much of wild and wonderful
    In these rude isles might fancy cull;
    For thither came. in times afar,
    Stern Lochlin's sons of roving war.
    The Norsemen, train'd to spoil and blood,
    Skill'd to prepare the raven's food;
    Kings of the main their leaders brave,
    Their barks the dragons of the wave.
    And there in many a stormy vale,
    The Scald had told his wondrous tale;
    And many a Runic column high
    Had witness'd grim idolatry.
    And thus had Harold in his youth
    Learn'd many a Saga's rhyme uncouth—
    Of that Sea-Snake, tremendous curl'd,
    Whose monstrous circle girds the world;
    Of those dread Maids, whose hideous yell
    Maddens the battle's bloody swell;
    Of Chief, who, guided through the gloom
    By the pale death-lights of the tomb,
    Ransack'd the graves of warriors old,
    Their falchions wrench'd from corpses' hold,
    Wak'd the deaf tomb with war's alarms,
    And bade the dead arise to arms!

Orkney [Orkney flag]

Generations after they were barons of Roslin, the Sinclairs also became for a time Earls of Orkney, the most famous of whom was Prince Henry Sinclair.

[Stromness, Orkney] Here is a picture of Stromness, Orkney, October 1995, by Gretchen Phillips.

1 January, Kirkwall, Orkney, The Ba' Game

Are you Uppie or Doonie? If so, you can play the the Ba' Game. Even if neither, you can watch each New Year's Day in Kirkwall.

Orcades, Boar Islands, or Seal Islands? For much more about Orkney heritage and traditions, see Orkneyjar.
Archaeological sites
[Skara Brae]
Skara Brae, a seaside town 5,000 years old, October 1995, by Gretchen Phillips.
[Standing Stones]
Standing stones, October 1995, by Gretchen Phillips.
Ancient Scotland, by Martin McCarthy.
The official guide to Orkney. The Orknet on-line guide to Orkney. Scottish Highlands Explorer.

From: (David Kruh)
Date: Wed, 2 Jun 1999 15:08:15 -0500 (CDT)

Descendants of the Scollay family from the Orkney Islands might be interested in what one of their ancestors has wrought here in Boston.
[new URL:]
Here are some links related to the Westray family and island.
Do you know about the website concerning the descendants of the Hudsons Bay employees and their Cree wives. It is very nicely done

Native Families of the Orkney and Shetland Islands

From: Niven Sinclair
Date: Thursday, May 13, 1999 8:54 AM

I am indebted to Nicholas Cran-Sinclair (a Sinclair of West Indian origin*) for compiling the following information. Nicholas writes:

Drawing on the available historical research sources such as Craven, Peterkin's Rentals. J Clouston's Records of the Earldom of Orkney and Roland William St Clair's The Clair of the Isles, these native families of the Orkney and Shetland Islands (and, to a lesser extent, Caithness) are the descendants of the Initial Norse Viking colonists who consolidated and extended the Northern Territories of the Orcadian 'jarldom' under the leadership of the family of Jarl Rognvald 'the Wise' of Moeri and Rhomasdahl in Norway and, more particularly, by his natural son, Jarl 'Turf' Einar - so-called because he taught people how to burn peat.

The majority of these families have taken their names from their main place of residence or land-ownership within the Northern Territories of either the Orkney or Shetland Islands and I have, therefore, separated them into groups.

The first Group is of the senior native families whose ancestors were the significant land-holding nobility of either Orcadian or Shetlander ruling assemblies or councils (known as 'lawthing') and were regularly mentioned in the old records as 'gudmen' (hereditary gentelemen odallers) 'lawrightmen' or 'lawrikmen' (regular parish district assizemen) 'lendirneb' (landed men) and 'roitmen' (hereditary odaller/council men).

From: Niven Sinclair <>
Date: Sun, 16 May 1999 23:35:14 +0100

The only recognised "sept" is LINKLATER. The others, not having a tartan of their own and because they were 'subjects' of the St Clairs/Sinclairs, who held semi-regal state in Orkney and Shetland, would be entitled to wear the Sinclair hunting or green tartan just as other Scots (who have no tartan of their own) can wear the Royal Stewart.


Niven Sinclair
These were, in alpahbetical order, Berstane, Clouston, Cragy (Craigie), Cromarty, Corrigal, Flett, Heddle, HALCRO, Ireland, Kirkness, LINKLATER, Ness (later Petereson, Petrie, Tulloch) Paplay, Rendall, Scarth (Formerly Harraldson/Bolt) Scalter and Yenstay.

The second Group is made up of the lesser native families of putative Norse Viking origin whose profile became slightly more prominent after the 1470/71 cession of the islands to the Scottish Crown and the subsequent tyrranical period under the Stewart Earls of Orkney which was in dark and direct contrast to the benevolent rule of the Sinclair 'Jarls' .

This larger Group was made up of the following families: Adie, Aikers, Aim, Aith, Annal, BAIKIE, Banks, Bigland, Breck, Brock, Brough, Burgar, Corsie, Corston, Coubister, Cumlaquoy, Cursetter/Cursitter, Deerness, Delday, Dinnison, Drever, Eunson (Johnsson) FEA, Firth, Flaw(s), Folster, Foubister, Gormistane, GARRIOCK, Garsand/Garson, Gilbertson, GROAT/Grote, Groundwater, Harcus, Harrald/Harrold, Harroldson, Harray, Hestwall, Hoseason, Hourston, Housgarth, Hunto (now Hunter), Hurie/Hurrey, Inksgair, Inkster/Ingsgar, Instabille, Keldie, Kirkbrek, KNARSTON, Langskaill, Larquoy, Laughton, LEASK, Linay, Male, Marsetter, Marwick, Matches, Meason of Whytquoy, Meil, Midhouse, Moar, Norn, Norquoy, Nestegard, Newsgar, Oddie, Omand/Omond (Amundsen), Orkney, Peace REDLAND, Ritch, Rousay (now Rosie, Rosey, Rossey) Rusland, Sabiston, Stanger, Stockan, Stove, TAIT, Towrie/Tyrie, Turfeus/Torfus, (Thorfinnson/Torphisson), Twatt, Vedder, Velzian, Voy, Walls, Wick, Windwick, Yorson and Yule.

The list of names seems to be limitless because there are even more less frequent Orcadian and Shetlander place-names which have now become patronymics by local families and which have generally been documented by Craven and others.

All of the above families would be entitled to wear the Sinclair hunting (green) tartan because the Sinclairs (like the Donalds of the Western Isles) were the last hereditary recipients of the semi-regal title of ``Prince.'' Therefore, all of the above families could and should come under the jurisdiction of the Clan Sinclair and be officially recognised as 'septs and dependents' of the Clan Sinclair.

I trust the foregoing (which has taken me ages to compile and type) will clarify the position for the above families.

Niven Sinclair

* There are many Sinclairs of West Indian origin (particularly in Barbados). Bob Marley's mother was a Sinclair.
Last changed: 01/03/10 19:37:08 [Clan Sinclair]