It has been conjectured that Norn was superseded by Scots in Caithness in the 15c and by GAELIC in the West Highlands and Islands in the 16c, but it appears to have endured to the later 18c in Orkney and perhaps into the 19c in Shetland. Garbled fragments (rhymes, proverbs, riddles, and snatches of songs) persisted in Orkney and especially Shetland folklore to the 20c (as late as 1958 on the island of Foula). The scanty earlier records reveal a language related to Faroese, but with a decaying inflectional system, as in this passage from the Lord's Prayer, as recorded by James Wallace in Account of the Islands of Orkney (1700): Ga vus da on da dalight brow vora, firgive vus sinna vora, sin vee firgive sindara mutha vs (Give us each day our daily bread, Forgive us our sins, as we forgive sins against us). The equivalent Old Norse was: Gef oss dag um dag dagligt brauð vort, fyrirgef oss syndir va *plrar, sem vér fyrirgef syndir i móti oss. Local documents in Older Scots (from 1433) contain many administrative and legal terms of Norn origin, and court records (from the early 17c) introduce many originally Norn words, including: galt boar, grind gate, heavie straw basket, row to ‘roo’ or pluck (sheep), spick fat, blubber, voe inlet, voir springtime. See ORKNEY AND SHETLAND DIALECTS, SCANDINAVIAN LANGUAGES.
Norns, the Norse Fates. Like the Fates of Greek religion and mythology, the Norns spun and wove the web of life. Belief in the Norns was of great importance in Germanic religion and life. It was said that no one, not even the gods, could escape their fate. The Norns were usually three in number—Urth or Wyrd (the past), Verthandi (the present), and Skuld (the future). The three weird sisters of destiny in Shakespeare's Macbeth are probably Scottish equivalents of the Norns.