Dunino is a Scottish village six miles from nowhere. I started out from St. Andrews on foot, believing that because it was beautiful, sunny afternoon it would be a nice walk. I finally got off the road at 2 PM, just in time for the sun to start setting.
Situated on the 59th parallel North, Orkney is as far north as Alaska, Quebec, and Norway. It’s a collection of more than sixty islands, twenty of them inhabited, linked together by ferries. Islanders from Rousay and Hoy come in to do their shopping on the mainland, in Kirkwall or Stromness.
The islands are surrounded by wind and sea and currents. The only trees grow in walled orchards or on carefully protected city streets. In the winter of 1850 a storm ripped the top off of a hill known as Skara Brae on the west coast of the mainland. Hidden underneath, almost perfectly preserved, was a Neolithic village.
At the very beginning of the 12th century two earls, cousins, ruled Orkney. Earl Haakon Paulsson and Earl Magnus Erlendsson did not share power well, and finally their friends forced them to call a peace conference and hash out their differences for once and for all.
The day: Easter Monday.
The place: Egilsay
The terms: two ships of unarmed men.
I forbid you, maidens a’,
That wear gowd on your hair,
To come or gae by Carterhaugh,
For young Tam Lin is there.
True Thomas lay on Huntlie bank;
A ferlie he spied wi’ his ee;
And there he saw a lady bright,
Come riding down by the Eildon Tree.