The Literature of
Orkney and Shetland

Literary Locations

Literary Locations

The towns, landscapes and ancient monuments of Orkney and Shetland have been the inspiration for many writers. In this series of short films we look at some of the locations on the islands that are associated with different authors.

Videos

Stromness

Stromness is the setting for nearly all the works of Orkney’s most famous writer, George Mackay Brown. The video is one of a series looking at the literary heritage of Orkney and was commissioned by … read more

Kirkwall

Kirkwall was the home of the poets Robert Rendall and Chrissie Costie, 
and also the scene of a number of famous visitors, including Robert Louis Stevenson. The video is one of a series looking at … read more

Harray

Harray was the home of the novelist Eric Linklater. His house – now the Merkister Hotel – looks onto the shores of Harray Loch. The video is one of a series looking at the literary … read more

Sanday

Sanday was the home of the writer Walter Traill Dennison, whose supernatural story, ‘The Stown Windin’ Sheet’, is set there. The video is one of a series looking at the literary heritage of Orkney and … read more

The Ring of Brodgar

Walter Scott thought that the Ring of Brodgar was the finest ancient monument after Stone Henge and the twentieth-century poet Glasgow poet Edwin Morgan was also inspired by this ancient stone circle. The video is … read more

Skara Brae


The Stone Age village of Skara Brae and the lives the people who lived there are imagined in the poems of George Mackay Brown and the Irish poet Michael Longley. The video is one of … read more

Burray

The landscape of Burray left its mark on one of Orkney’s most successful nineteenth-century novelists, Mary Brunton. The video is one of a series looking at the literary heritage of Orkney and was commissioned by … read more

Birsay

The poets George Mackay Brown and Robert Rendall were inspired by the history and landscape of Birsay in Orkney. They wrote about the Brough of Birsay, a large tidal island, in their works. The video … read more

Weisdale and John J. Graham

John J. Graham used Weisdale as a key location in two of his novels, Shadowed Valley and Strife in the Valley. The video is one of a series looking at the literary heritage of Shetland and … read more

Clickimin Broch and Walter Scott

Walter Scott was fascinated with the ancient history of Orkney and Shetland and wrote about the Clickimin Broch when he visited Lerwick. The video is one of a series looking at the literary heritage of Shetland … read more

Mavis Grind and William J. Tait

The video discusses Mavis Grind and references to it in William J. Tait’s poem; A Day Atween Waddirs. The video is one of a series looking at the literary heritage of Shetland and was commissioned by Writng the North.

Sullom Voe and Robert Alan Jamieson

The video discusses Sullom Voe and Shetland author Robert Alan Jamieson’s book, Thin Wealth which examined the impact of the oil terminal on the community. The video is one of a series looking at the literary … read more

Sumburgh Head and Walter Scott

Walter Scott used Sumburgh Head as a key location in his book The Pirate. This video is one of a series on the literary heritage of Shetland commissioned by Writing the North

Whalsay and Hugh MacDiarmid

This video located on Whalsay where Scottish poet Hugh MacDiarmid lived is one of a series of short videos on the literary heritage of Shetland.

Fort Charlotte and Margaret Chalmers

This video of Fort Charlotte in Lerwick discusses the 19th century poet Margaret Chalmers and is one of a series of short videos on the literary heritage of Shetland.