The natives of North Ronaldsay were always a bit unusual. Until the 19th century they still spoke a dialect of Old Norse, a language that had already died out on the neighboring islands.
About 600 people once lived on North Ronaldsay. Nowadays the number of inhabitants is tiny. Life on the northernmost of the Orkney Islands was just too harsh on the human population. The native breed of sheep, however, which feed mainly on marine algae, could now become a lucrative source of income. But new farmers are having a hard time finding land while native residents are loath to give up their property.