Shetland is mourning its foremost Nordic scholar, Roy Gronneberg, whose body was found in Lerwick Harbour on Thursday morning.

Police have appealed for witnesses to the last hours of Mr Gronneberg (50), a childhood polio victim who walked with the aid of sticks. It is being assumed that he slipped and fell into the sea at Albert Wharf, some time late on Wednesday evening.

Mr Gronneberg was born in Norway to a Shetland mother and Norwegian father.

The family of four brothers moved back to Shetland in the early 1950s.

He battled his crippling disability to finish school and become a gifted student and researcher. He led an active life in local

journalism, literature and Scottish National Party politics and for some years he ran a Lerwick bookshop which became a gathering place for many friends who delighted in debating politics and history with him.

His voluminous writings included a map of Shetland's Norwegian place-names and a biography of Jakob Jakobsen, the noineteenth-century Faroese philologist who compiled a massive dictionary of the Norn language in Shetland.

Mr Gronneberg was instrumental in arranging for a reprint of Jakobsen's dictionary, credited with helping to rescue the islands' distinctive dialect from oblivion.

He was unmarried and had lived alone in a flat in Lerwick since the death of his mother, Annie, a few years ago. Friends said he had recently been in poor health but remained doggedly independent, struggling up a steep lane every

day for lunch at the Norwegian Fishermen's Mission

in Lerwick.

Shetland author John Graham, one of Mr Gronneberg's former teachers, said: ''I'm shattered and saddened by this news. Roy was an extremely likeable character, utterly dedicated to anything he undertook. What everybody admired about him was his courage.'' Mr Graham said the ''dialect database'' that Mr Gronneberg

had compiled at the Shetland Archives would be of ''immense value'' to future scholars.