On this day 1472: Orkney and Shetland join Scotland

Skara Brae, the prehistoric village on Orkney''. Picture: TSPL

Skara Brae, the prehistoric village on Orkney''. Picture: TSPL

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ON THIS day in 1472, Orkney and Shetland officially became part of Scotland.

The islands, previously held under Norwegian and Danish control, were eventually offered up as security for the dowry of the Princess Margaret, the prospective wife of James III of Scotland, and daughter of King Christian of Norway and Denmark.

Waves hitsthe rocks at Hillswick beach on Shetland. Picture: Contributed

Waves hitsthe rocks at Hillswick beach on Shetland. Picture: Contributed

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King James was to wed Christian’s daughter as part of a political arrangement and as such both the isles of Orkney and the Shetlands were to be held by the Scottish crown as a pledge, redeemable when the impovrished Scandinavian King made the dowry payment of 50,000 Rhenish Florins.

At the end of the first year the payment had not been forthcoming and more money was added to the pledge.

Two years later, Christian had still not made the payment so the Earldom of Orkney and Lordship of Shetland were annexed to the Scottish Crown, a process confirmed by Parliament in 1472.

As the years passed, the Scottish influence over the islands grew and gradually the Norse way of life and language slipped away. By the late 17th century the variant of the Norse language of Orkney - Norn - was spoken only by the inhabitants of one or two remote parishes. While Shetland’s connection to Norway has remained enduring.

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