Bibliography of older books and guides on Orkney


This bibliography lists popular and specialist books and guides on Orkney not included elsewhere on this site.

  • Shoal and Sheaf: by David M. Tinch. Published Belfast 1988. 191 pp.
    A former County Librarian's selection from The Orkney Photographic Archive.
  • The Orkney Story: by Liv K Schei. Published by Hippocrene Books, New York 1985. 224pp.
    Comprehensive and well illustrated.
  • Orkney and Shetland: an historical, geographical, social and scenic survey: by Eric Linklater. Published by Robert Hale, London,1984, 4th ed., 285pp.
    By Orkney's most famous author.
  • Orkney: by Ronald Miller. Published by BT Batsford, London 1976. ISBN 0 7134 3131 8. 192pp.
    By one of Orkney's many professors.
  • The New Orkney Book: by John A. Shearer, W. Groundwater and J. D. Mackay. Published by Nelson 1966. 190pp.
    A very comprehensive guide aimed at secondary school students, but informative for all.
  • Orkney: by Dr. Hugh Marwick. Published by Robert Hale, London, 1951, as one of County Book series. 295pp.
    By one of Orkney's most knowledgeable writers.
  • The Orkney Book - Readings for Young Orcadians: edited by John Gunn. Published by Nelson 1909. 448pp.
    Now a collectors' piece.
  • List of books and pamphlets relating to Orkney and Shetland: compiled by James W Cursiter. Published Kirkwall, 1894.
    Authoritative at the time, but now very outdated.
  • The Orkneys and Shetlands: by John R Tudor. Published 1883 by Stanford. 732pp. Reprinted 1987.
    The first and finest comprehensive survey of the Northern Isles, with many quaint anecdotes.
  • On the Agriculture of the Islands of Orkney: Authoritative articles by Robert Pringle and Thomas Farral. Published in 1874 in the Transaction of the Highland Society 4, vi, ppl-68, 69-99.
  • Summers and Winters in Orkney: by Daniel Gorrie. Published 1868, 1869, 1893/4, 1909. 409pp.
    Quaint period piece.
  • Orkney & Shetland Guide, Directory and Almanac: by J. Anderson. Published by the The Orcadian 1882, with updates till 1893.
    Commercial directories.
  • Orkney Almanac and County Directory: by William Peace. Published by the The Orkney Herald 1868, with updates till 1939.
    Commercial directories.
  • Hand-book to the Orkney Islands:. Author: None. Published by Wm. Peace & Son, Kirkwall 1862, with updates till 1882.
    Tourist guide book.
  • Slater's (later Kelly's) Directory:. Published 1852-1928.
    Lists Kirkwall and Stromness businesses.
  • Pigott's Commercial Directory: Published 1825, 1837.
    Lists Kirkwall and Stromness businesses.
  • General View of the Agriculture of the Orkney Islands: by John Shirreff. Published 1814.
  • The Present State of the Orkney Islands: Considered by James Fea. Published 1775, 1884.
    Criticism of the backwardness of Orkney at that time.
  • A Description of Orkney: by Rev. George Low. Published 1773, reprinted by Orkney Heritage Society 2001. In print.
    An objective if critical introduction to a less accurate History.
  • The General Grievances and Oppressions of the Isles of Orkney and Shetland: by James Mackenzie. Published 1750, reprinted 1836.
    A shrewd and sound review of the lairds' problems.
  • Brief Description of Orkney, Zetland, Pightland Firth and Caithness: by Rev James Brand. Published 1701; reprinted 1703, 1716, 1883.
    A splendid account.
  • An Account of the Islands of Orkney: by Rev James Wallace. Published 1693, 1700, 1883; facsimile published c.1980. LDS microfiche 6036608.
    Interesting insights. For facsimile and transcript of original text see Scottish Archives Network. Please note that, like all early histories of Orkney, Wallace's Chapter 12 is full of inaccuracies.
  • Description of Shetland, Orkney and Highlands of Scotland: by Richard James. Published c.1620; reprinted in Orkney Miscellany 1953, i, 48-56.
    Earliest description of Orkney in English.
  • Descripto Insularum Orcadiarum: by Jo Ben. Translation with notes published by Scottish History Society 1908 ppvi-xiii, 302-323.
    Earliest contemporary account of Orkney.