The Deerness Mermaid

The Deerness mermaid of Orkney has been with many British children since a young age. As a young primary school pupil we were often made to draw pictures representing this magical creature for our basic art lessons.

On several occasions our teacher would go through the story with us before we were allowed to mix our paints and start. I used to love it – the magical theme of the story then the license to be let free in art later was always exciting to me.


Off the North coast of Scotland there is a group of small islands that band together to form Orkney. Out of the 70 islands only 20 of them are inhabited, the biggest of which is referred to as the Mainland.

There have been people living on these islands for at least 8,500 years. The two first known civilizations to be living there were called the Mesolithic and Neolithic. Later on on history the islands became inhabited by the more famous Picts.

The island sort of bounced back and forth between Scotland and Norway (the Norse) in early history until 1472 when Scotland took it back for good. It has stayed as one of the 32 council areas of Scotland ever since.

The Deerness Mermaid

There have been many sightings of mermaids in Orkney but the Deerness mermaid is by far the most famous.

It was around the 1890 period when the sightings began. They happened over a couple of summer periods ( we cannot be exact but we are led to believe it was about two to three summer seasons! ).

The Deerness mermaid used to show herself to visitors to Newark bay with little to no fear of being spotted. It pretty much started off as a bold rumor but then literally hundreds of eyewitness reports came forward.

There were no real details given about her appearance as she swam about some distance from the shore to stay safe.

There is one known report that offers a vaguely decent description of the creature but it’s not exactly what you would expect. We are not talking about a friendly ‘Disney’ character here!

The report claimed that the creature was a rather frightening seven feet in length and had a dark black head and neck upon it’s shoulders. The skin of it’s torso was a deep pale white color and it had long arms that it used to swim about in a waving motion.

It also rather creepily slid up and down rocks under the water – using them to protrude and then disappear back into the water again. It was as if she (it) was waving through the water in a sort of dance motion.

A Short Stay

As I mentioned above the Deerness mermaid only showed herself over the period of a few summers. As a child I used to love the stories and always wanted to visit Orkney because of this.

Funnily enough my first marriage took place in Scotland but that is the one and only time I have ever been there. I’m afraid I’m yet to grace the shores of Orkney and see if the strange sea visitor will greet me!

If you have any further information on this particular sea creature or it’s sightings please feel free to leave it in the comment section below…

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