Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Orkney Islands

Orkney Islands (the Orcades of Ptolemy), a group of islands separated by the Pentland Firth from Caithness,-Scotland. They are 90 in number, but the only ones of any size or importance are Mainland or Pomona (207 square miles). Hoy, the most picturesque, Sanday, and Westray. At the end of the 9th century they were conquered by Harold Harfagr of Norway, and later passed from Norway to Denmark, whence they passed in 1468 to James III. of Scotland as security for the dowry of his wife, the Danish princess Margaret. The Danish kings did not finally abandon their pretensions till the marriage of Anne of Denmark to James VI. of Scotland. The inhabitants are of mixed Scandinavian and Scottish origin. Only -about half the land is cultivated; but fishing and cattle-rearing are largely carried on. The Orkney and Shetland Isles send a joint member to the Imperial Parliament.