Dave wrote in response to Anne:
<< Now, back to the Orkneys,
there are rather extensive archeological findings there from what is
generally been considered as "pre-Celtic". Whether there may have been
folks there of a non-Celtic origin when the Vikings showed up (9th-10th C
AD) is an intriguing question, and one which will most likely be
difficult to answer. Perhaps someone (Russ?) can see if the Scots
(settlers from Ireland) had gotten that far north by this time. >>
I think its a certainty that the Orkneys were occupied by both Celtic and
Pictish peoples. The islands get their name from a Celtic seafaring tribe,
the_Orcacdes_. I've found a passage in T. G. E. Powell's "The Celts" which
states that the Orcades "offered their allegiance to Cladius" in return for
his support against the Caledonii, who were pressing northward from the
The evidence for Pictish habitation rests on archaeology, especially in they
type of housing common among the Picts, souterrains. Charles Thomas writes in
"Peculiar mostly to Pictland are souterrains, or large semi-subterranean
constructed passages -- cellars, sunken byres, places of refuge? -- attached
to circular stone-walled houses which began to be built during the Roman
centuries but were used over quite a long period. In the Northern Isles
(Orkney and Shetland) there is a complex archaeological phase before the
Viking settlements of the later 8th century which must include, certainly in
Orkney, the homes of Picts." [p. 96]
Skara Brae comes to mind.
I couldn't find anything on whether the Dalriadan Scots made it to Orkney. I
think it unlikely since the Picts and Scots were not united until the time of
Kenneth MacAlpin, who became king of the Picts and Scots in 843. By that
time, the Norse invasion and occupation of the Orkneys was already under way.
The islands were not incorporated into the kingdom of Scotland until 1471.
Thus, they were held by the Norse from the 9th to the 15th century.