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259

(1908) [MARC] [MARC] Author: William Gershom Collingwood With: Frederick York Powell
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Full resolution (JPEG) - On this page / på denna sida - Scandinavian Britain - III. The Norse Settlements - 6. The Earldom of Orkney

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were Norse with few exceptions ; the parishioners
of Cunningsburgh in 1576 were named Olaw (4),
Magnus (7), Ereik, Swaine, Symone (Sæmund),
Brownie (Brúnn), with Nichole, Erasmus and John,
more recent names than the heathen age but still
Norse, and the Celtic Hector ; all their holdings were,
as they still remain, named in Norse. Indeed it is
hardly profitable to attempt here any survey of Orkney
and Shetland place-names ; they are, of course, so
completely Scandinavian as to need a special volume
for their elucidation (see Dr. Jakob Jakobsen, Dialect
and Place-names of Shetland
, 1897; and Shetlandsöernes
Stednavne
, 1901).

George Buchanan in 1582 said that the Shetland
measures, numbers and weights were "Germanic" or
"almost old Gothic." Brand in 1701 remarked that
Shetlanders spoke Norse, though Dutch was understood
owing to the trade with Holland. In 1711 Sir Robert
Sibbald called their language "Norn " (Norræna), and
so late as 1770 the Rev. George Low collected the
remains of the language as then remembered on Foula,
the westernmost of the Shetlands. The ballad of
"Hildina" (trans. W. G. Collingwood, Ork. and Shet.
Old Lore
, Ap. 1908) has been edited in a masterly
treatise, Hildinakvædet by Prof. Marius Hægstad (1900),
in which the difficulties of a text dictated to one who
was entirely ignorant of the language have been cleared
up, and the " Norn " is shown to be fairly pure Norse,
with a very slight sprinkling of Danish, Færoese, Frisian
and English words. It may be remarked that
initial H is sometimes dropped or added ; consonants

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