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Orkney and Shetland

Orkney's history stretches back more than 5000 years. The Stone Age site at Skara Brae, preserved for thousands of years beneath earth and sand, provides evidence of sophisticated early settlers. Both Orkney and Shetland were colonised by Norsemen in the ninth century, and Orkney remained under their control until the mid-fifteenth century. The islands were used as security for the substantial dowry offered to James III for his betrothal to Margaret of Denmark (who both appear in the Trinity Altarpiece [1772]. More recently, the discovery of North Sea oil has transformed the economy of Shetland. Traditional local industries such as farming and fishing have been complemented by processing and distribution of oil, and Shetland is now home to one of Europe's largest oil terminals.