Map, Placenames and Lore

Swona Map

James Rosie on the place names and lore of Swona 1966

This audio recording features James Rosie, Ernest Marwick and Alexander Annal detailing a some of  the place names and lore of Swona whilst touring the island. It allows us to hear how the place names are pronounced and it is the only known recording of James Rosie’s voice, although it is understood that the recording features a clearer form of his accent, which he would call his “radio voice”. 

Like many islands in Orkney, Swona is blessed with a rich tapestry of place-names. Roughly 200 features that lie on the island and around its waters are named. This was useful to the islanders as it allowed them to accurately convey locations when organising work related to fishing and farming. Fortunately most of these names were recorded by Ordinance Survey cartographers who received first hand instruction by James in 1965.

The recording  is part of the Ernest Marwick Collection. The original recording is stored in the Orkney Sound Archive ID D31-TR-49 (Side B).

Credits: BBC Radio Orkney