Scott’s northern odyssey revisited

Scholars are exploring the links between the iconic novelist Walter Scott and the Northern Isles.

2014 is the bicentenary of Scott’s visit to Orkney, Shetland and Fair Isle with the celebrated lighthouse engineer Robert Stevenson.

The visit was documented by Walter Scott in a diary with tales of sailors, dancers, witches, sea monsters and an ancient pict.

Writing the North

An animated film of extracts of the diary has been produced as part of Writing the North - a collaboration between the University of Edinburgh, the Shetland Museum and Archives and the Orkney Library Archives.

The full diary was never published in Scott’s lifetime, but was published in J. G. Lockhart’s Life of Sir Walter Scott.

Literature of the Islands

The film forms part of an exhibition at the Shetland Museum and Archives which tells the story of Northern Isles literature through books, sounds recordings, manuscripts and illustrations.

The exhibition showcases a year-long project that has brought together literature scholars, museum professionals, creative writers and schools to recognise and promote the literature of Scotland’s Islands.

The displays guide visitors through four themes: myths and legends, visitors to the islands, working lives and the sounds of Orkney and Shetland.

Inspiring new work

Findings from the project will be presented in a series of talks at the Shetland Museum and Archives, In Lerwick on Saturday, May 10. The event will launch a book of new poems by Orkney and Shetland writers in response to the history of Northern Isles writing.

The islands of Orkney and Shetland have a vibrant community of poets and novelists. Writing the North brings past and present writing together which we hope will inspire even more new writing.

Professor Penny FieldingSchool of Languages, Literatures and Cultures

The project has been funded with a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council of the UK.