Natural Magic on the Orkney Islands: Part Four – final reflections

There is nothing like a holiday on the Scottish islands for that feeling of getting away from it all. Total rest and relaxation – highly recommended.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have really enjoyed the slower pace of the islands, the chance to be deep in nature, and the delights of exploring new-to-us places. It has also struck me, however, how many connections there are, often in unexpected places, with fellow humans past and present.

Orkney is famous for its ancient history. People from the Neolithic age speak to us through their legacy right across the island. This is the Ring of Brodgar:

You can see standing stones everywhere. We walked past this one on our daily walk to the Bay of Skaill.  Is it Neolithic? No idea.  But it is evidence of someone wanting to make their mark on the landscape.


Here’s another example. I took this photo from the car because I liked the image of the ruined cottage and the cows. It was only later that I noticed the standing stone in the foreground:


Orkney is also famous for its sea stacks, like this one at Yesnaby.  Might these, or ones like them have inspired something in the people who worked so hard to erect the standing stones? It was certainly awe-inspiring for us to stand and take in such a beautiful and dramatic landscape.


We can also connect to the ancients through storytelling.  The Orkneyinga Saga is an incredible and fascinating 13th century account of the history of the Orkney and Shetland Islands. At the Orkneyinga Saga Centre there are the remains of this 12th century Round Church which is thought to be mentioned in the Saga. It is amazing to think about all the gatherings, discussions and fights that had taken place on this site for hundreds of years:


Even more remarkable for us was this gravestone behind the church, marking the life of a lady who died in the small town of Clevedon in South West England, where my mum and step-dad live, and where we got married 25 years ago. How incredible to see this link not just between one end of the UK and the other, but to the very place where we have such personal connections:


More modern connections now. On previous visits to Orkney, we have passed the Italian Chapel many times and were keen to visit properly.


The Chapel was built by Italian prisoners of war who were keen to have a place of worship while living so far from home.  The photos on this plaque bring us face to face with the men involved. I was struck by the notion of ‘creativity in adversity’ and the need to ‘find something inside that could be set free.’

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning


The drive to fashion the place where one lives to meet one’s needs, perhaps even in captivity, is a timeless urge. Here are a couple of shots taken at Skara Brae, the stunning 5,000 year old Neolithic village, where you can see the nature of the site as a whole and, in the second picture, one of the dwellings with stone beds, a hearth and even a mantlepiece.  It is so incredible and moving to see how similar this is to the way we live now:



Orkney is truly a magical place.  We’ll definitely be back. 🙂



26 thoughts on “Natural Magic on the Orkney Islands: Part Four – final reflections

  1. I loved the Victor Frankl quote. When we think every choice has been taken away from us, we can still chose, to challenge ourselves to embrace our personal way. It is indeed liberating. I have enjoyed our time together in Orkney. I felt that I was there with you every step of the way. Your painting is exquisite and reflects the joyful solitude of an Orkney horizon.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Another insightful, interesting and beautifully illustrated post, Liz. Your photos are excellent but your painting is the best. Subtle and atmospheric. I love it. X

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yet another fantastic and thoughtful post about Orkney. It is over 55 years since I was there and yet so much of it seems to be unchanged. Your own artwork and photos perfectly capture the mood and beauty of the landscape that I remember.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You’ve done great job of capturing the mystery of these places–and I really like the theme of human connections. I’ve felt the same way at Newgrange and Knowth in Ireland–amazing to be able to feel so close to people who lived long ago. Orkney looks and sounds magnificent.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You certainly got the utmost from your holiday. The Orkneys clearly have a magical quality to them, from their long and mysterious history and their beauty I guess, and you have conveyed this beautifully. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Delighted to have been able to convey some of the very special nature of the Orkneys, and that you have enjoyed the posts! Thanks also very much for sending me the link to that podcast, which I have listened to twice – so interesting. X


  6. I’m so pleased that you added your own piece at the top of this post because I forgot to compliment you on the piece from the previous post. (I was carried away by everything!) I love that Clevedon connection, marrying with these ancient connections stretching back to prehistory. The Italian Chapel is another place I very much want to visit. Have you come across the novel about it. Liz?

    Overall, it sounds like you have had a wonderful immersive experience. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. In this digital age we are more easily able to make our mark – through our blogs perhaps 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for all your lovely comments on the four posts, Sandra. I hadn’t heard about the novel, but am so pleased you mentioned it – I downloaded a copy immediately! I hope you make it to the islands some time – such a special place. 😀💕

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Do let me know your thoughts on the novel, Liz. I’ve not read it yet – don’t know why really ut I suspect my subconscious is telling me to wait until I make it to the chapel in person 🤗


  7. Wow, I’ve loved your ‘photos and thoughts, now I must get myself there! Is the painting at the top one of yours? It’s beautiful and the cow and ruined cottage is just wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Jane – yes, that picture is mine – inspired by one of the photos in my second Orkney post. It’s been wonderful to have been inspired by the islands to pick up my digital paintbrush!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. A wonderful painting to start this post off. The whole post gives the perfect atmosphere you describe. Indeed the Orkney’s are magical. All is so beautiful , thank you for taking us around along during your holiday!

    Liked by 1 person

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