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Meaning & History

A medieval name for the Orkney Islands, the famous archipelago of the northwest coast of Scotland. It comes from the Roman name Orcades which was probably derived from Celtic *forko- "young pig". Writes K.M. Sheard: "Whether this arose as a personal name, which became a tribal name, and then was attached to the islands, or whether the islands were associated with pigs in some way is less easy to say. Certainly, pigs played an important role in Celtic lore - such as Pryderi's - and did not have the lowly status they have today."

Also of note: "The Gaelic name for the Islands is Insi Orc, from Common Celtic *forko- "piglet". In Old Norse, however, orkn means "seal", and the Viking invaders in the early Middle Ages assumed this was the island's name. They duly slapped on ey "island" - and the name Orkney was born" (Sheard, 2011).
Added 12/23/2016 by SeaHorse15