Attested:  Pomponius Mela 3,44 Orcades; Ptolemy 2,3,31 Ορκαδες; RC Dorcades; and many other classical writers.

Where:  The Orkney islands – 30 of them according to several writers.

Name origin:  Latin orca ‘whale’.

Notes:  30 is a remarkably accurate estimate for the number of distinct Orkney islands likely to have been inhabited when Mela wrote, in AD43, which implies that traders regularly visited Orkney before the Roman invasion of Britain.  Thousands of years of settlement before that have been revealed by archaeology.

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Last Edited: 27 September 2016