Writer appointed to champion use of Scots language on Orkney

A writer has been employed to champion the use of the Orcadian dialect and celebrate the islands as a “stronghold  for the Scots Language”

Alison Miller has been appointed “Orkney Scriever”, and will spend a year raising the profile, understanding and appreciation of Orcadian and Scots through original work.

Ms Miller will also work alongside local communities in Orkney as part of the role, which is based at the National Library of Scotland and Orkney Library & Archive, supported by funding from the National Lottery through Creative Scotland

She said: “A’m ferly plaesed A’m been meed Scots Scriever fir Orkney this year. Hid is right grand tae think A’ll hae more time tae spend wae fokk that spaek Orcadian an want tae write in wir mither tongue – the parteeclar language o the Northern Isles.   

“‘Skreever’ in Orcadian is a howlan gale – a good wind tae hae at me back fir me own writeen. Hid is gan in a few different directions at the meenit. Haean this year tae focus on hid as weel as on ither fokks’ writeen is the sixpence in the clootie duff!” 

Author Alison Miller

Ms Miller writes in both Orcadian and English and is a published author and creative writing workshop facilitator. 

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She is the author of ‘Demo’, a coming-of-age novel about a Glasgow girl during the lead-up to the Iraq war, and has also written short stories, essays and poetry reflecting on life in Orkney, island life, language and literature. 

The writer worked as reader in residence at the Scottish Book Trust, as a writer and tutor for Scottish PEN’s Many Voices project, and more recently, as lead reader for Open Book in Orkney.  

Alan Bett, Head of Literature and Publishing at Creative Scotland said: “The placement of the Scriever in Orkney this year and the focus on the Orcadian language is an exciting shift for the residency.

“Alison Miller is a fantastic appointment and her long track record of working in Orcadian will ensure the richness of the language is celebrated, not only through a programme of public engagement, but also through the creation of new and original written work.”    

As part of the residency, Miller will have the opportunity to research collections at both the National Library of Scotland and Orkney Library & Archive.  

HeraldScotland: Kirkwall, Orkney  Kirkwall, Orkney

Karen Walker, Team Leader at Orkney Library & Archive, said:  “We are delighted that Alison Miller has been appointed as our Orcadian Scots Scriever. She has a wealth of experience of writing in and speaking Orcadian which will allow our dialect to reach a wider audience and help preserve Orkney’s rich cultural heritage.   

“Access to archive documents at Orkney Library & Archive and the National Library of Scotland will ensure a wide variety of source material to inspire the imagination. We are very much looking forward to working with Alison and enjoying the results of new creative Orcadian writing.” 

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National Librarian Dr John Scally said:  “Alison Miller has demonstrated her passion and experience of Orcadian, with a strong track record as a writer, creative writing facilitator and event host.

“She has spent her life promoting Orcadian and uses the language across several mediums, and we are all looking forward to working with her throughout her residency.” 



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