Orkney does not have many proper ghost stories, perhaps tough Orcadians don't scare easily.
Most of the folklore revolves around the sea. Sea monsters, selkies and phantom ships all make frequent appearances in our files of wonderful tales. This makes sense as many people relied on the sea for at least part of their living and the flat landscape sometimes feels dwarfed by the sea and skies, especially when it's stormy.
One creepy tale that keeps popping up in various forms is that of 'The Book of The Black Arts.' The basic story goes that there once existed a book full of charms and spells imbued with the requisite power to put said charms and spells into action. The book was said to be made up of black pages printed with white ink.
All of this was great except for one terrifying fact. If anyone died whilst still in posession of the book, he and it would be instantly claimed by its author, the Devil himself. The book was not easy to get rid of.
According to Ernest Walker Marwick's 'The Folklore of Orkney and Shetland', a man in Sandwick tried to get rid of the book by taking it far out to sea and throwing it over the side of his boat in a sack weighted with rocks. When he got home, the book was waiting for him on the kitchen table. Aaaaaaggggghhhh!!!!!
A girl in Sanday who had been tricked into accepting the evil book by a local witch flung it over Grunavi head but it was home in her bedroom before she was. Aaaaaggggghhhhh!!!
The story nearly always ends with a minister being appealed to and accepting charge of the terrible tome. The Rev. Charles Clouston is said to have buried the Sandwick copy in the manse garden and the Rev. Matthew Armour dealt with the Sanday copy.
The title page of the Book of the Black Arts is said to have read:
'Cursed is he that peruseth me.'