Updated: Jan 24, 2021
“Earl Rognvald collected together his forces in Orkney, planning to sail to Caithness, and when he reached the Pentland Firth he had 30 large ships. Then he came face to face with Thorfinn, who had 60 ships...” - The Orkneyinga Saga, circa 1200 AD
In 2016 I stood mesmerized for a long while taking in this scene as I returned through sheep fields from the Duncansby Sea Stacks. From the tippy top of the mainland you can look across to the abandoned structures on the island of Stroma and on to Orkney in the distance. The last of Stroma's residents abandoned the island in 1962, and the lighthouse was automated in 1997. Sheep are the island's only inhabitants now.
It may look benign in this picture, but the Pentland Firth can be a treacherous place. Imagine seeing Viking fleets out across the waters here! The imagination can so easily run wild.
If you’re interested in Viking history in northern Scotland, you’re welcome to come along to my free virtual event this Friday!