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Life in the Orkneys (cip 2)

Orkney's prehistoric sites and wartime past

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Second part of a film about life on the Orkney islands. This clip shows various pre-historic sites including the standing Stones of Stenness, Skara Brae, the Broch of Gurness and the ruins of the Palace of Birsay. Shots of the German fleet in Scapa Flow prior to scuttling in 1919. The regatta in Scapa Flow. Aerial shots of the Churchill Barriers and a farmer driving his tractor across the Barriers.

Questions & Activities


  • What was the significance of Scapa Flow in World War I and II.
  • What does scuttling the fleet mean?
  • What were the Churchill Barriers? Why were they built and who built them?
  • Who lived at Skara Brae and what were their houses built of? Why do you think this was?
  • Why do you think there are there so few trees in Orkney?
  • Have the Orkney'€™s always been part of Scotland?
  • Who conquored and ruled the Orkney Islands in the past?


History / Social Studies / Geography / Home Front / English: Research Orkney'€™s role in World War I and II. Present your findings either as a presentation, piece of creative writing, mulit-media essay or role-play drama.

Social Studies / Religious Education / History: Research the myth of '€˜Human Sacrifice'€™. Investigate the function of stone circles and the different theories pertaining to them. Was human sacrifice really a feature of stone age life and if not where do the myths originate?

Social Studies / Media Studies: The stone circle featured in this film has been destroyed. Find out about this historical vandalism. Create a news item reporting on the vandalism and/or create a campaign advertisement to save either this monument or a monument in your local area.

Social History / English: Create a timeline of the ancient moments located in the Orkney Isles. Find out who the 'Picts' were and research place names and surnames to try and identify their origin.

Environmental Studies / Geography: Research plans for wave generation in Orkney and discus the pros and cons.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-000-002-247-C
Resource Rights Holder National Library of Scotland
Project Ref 2009
Date 1957
Genre Sponsored, Documentary
School Subject Social History, English, Environmental Studies, Media Studies, Geography, History
Subject Matter World War 1, World War 2, Home Front
Who Campbell Harper Films (production company), Films of Scotland (sponsor)
Where Orkney, Skara Brae
Attributes Black and White, Sound
Clip Length 2:43
Film Length 17:38