Orkney Islands

After crossing the rugged highland scenery of the North of Scotland - the first impressions of Orkney are of greenness and fertility, combined with a feeling of space where undulating soft countryside merges with sky and sea into a soft confluence of nature. There is an overall feeling of the immensity of time, perhaps due to the prevalence of so much history. Indeed The Orkney Islands have been described by the famous Orcadian author George Mackay Brown as 'like sleeping whales... beside an ocean of time'.

Although people first came to these islands well over 6000 years ago, leaving a wealth of archaeological sites and remains, which allows much insight into the past, Orkney is far from being a museum. Within our island there is a huge range of things to see and do in all seasons, and this can have a valuable influence upon the designer jewellery crafted by Ortak. With its diverse economy it is a busy place, and yet at the same time unspoilt, quiet and relaxing. The old and the new, the natural environment and the geographical location all merge to give the islands their uniquely attractive

Orkney consists of a group of over 70 islands and skerries of which about twenty are presently inhabited. The islands lie 10 kilometres (6 miles) off the north coast of Scotland. Although apparently isolated the islands are well served for communications with Scotland by sea and by air.

The natural environment of Orkney has been formed by the interaction of land, sea and ice. Each island is different, resulting in a wide variety of scenery and habitat in a small place. Having been heavily glaciated during the last Ice Age, the landscape is of smooth rollings hills and shallow sounds and bays. Since the Ice Age the rising sea level has flooded the area to form the present green and blue landscape of islands and water.

Orkney's first settlers were probably seafarers from Britain, Ireland, Denmark or even Norway. Farmers were well established in Orkney 6000 years ago and archaeology points to these people being accomplished stonemasons, craftsmen (including Ortak's talented craftsmen of designer jewellery ) and seafarers who created sophisticated accommodations for themselves and elaborate monuments for their dead.

Orkney's climate is remarkably equable for its latitude. The weather is greatly influenced by the sea and the Scottish mainland. The sea's influence come from the North Atlantic drift which ensures that the sea temperatures only vary by about five degrees between summer and winter. The most noticeable feature is the wind which is unimpeded by the smooth terrain. The Sutherland mountains offer considerable protection from westerly weather. The wind controls or affects all kinds of things including buildings, farming, fishing, gardening and the natural environment and wildlife.

Orkney is one of the finest places in Western Europe for bird watching. The cliffs, maritime heath, moorland, marshes, lochs and coasts provide food and habitat for dozens of species including Puffins, Razorbills, Guillemots, Gannets, Artic Terns, Curlews, Skuas, Harriers, Owls, Corncrakes and Oystercatchers. Other residents include Otters, Voles, Seals, Whales and Dolphins.