The Northern Isles: Orkney and Shetland by Alexander Fenton
The Northern Isles Orkney and Shetland by Alexander Fenton
The Orkney and Shetland archipelagos were among the smallest regions settled by Norwegians during the Viking Expansion that took place c. However, many years of multidisciplinary research have revealed that these northernmost British Isles played significant roles in the politics and economies of the Viking World of the North Atlantic and the North Sea. From their earliest settlements by Neolithic agriculturalists in the fourth millenium b. When the islands were settled by the Norse in the early medieval period, their peripheral status was transformed as they became the first stepping stones in an epic transoceanic migration that ended in North America. At that point, Orkney and Shetland became the gateway to the North Atlantic and a crossroads between Britain and Scandinavia. To better understand the first Viking contacts with Orkney and Shetland and the eventual Norse settlement of the islands, it is necessary to examine the larger geographical contexts of the archipelagos. First, Shetland is the part of Britain which is geographically closest to Norway; as such it was a logical first landfall for Norwegian Vikings who sailed south to British and Irish locations.
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The island groups of Orkney , Shetland and the Western Isles are all politically integral parts of Scotland. Their constitutional status has periodically been discussed, for example during the Scottish independence referendum campaign. Currently, they are council areas with the same constitutional status as the other 29 local government areas.
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