Papay: Heritage

Heritage of Papa Westray: Click on the title of any entry for more information.

The Kelp Store

The fine two-storey buildings near the Old Pier are kelp stores. Kelp – an alkali substance produced by burning seaweed which was in great demand by the soap- and glass-making industries – dominated the Orkney economy in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In the boom years Papay was producing more kelp per capita […]

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Boat Nausts

Walking around the shores of Papay one can see a number of these boat shelters cut into the dunes.  The lack of any natural harbour here meant that the fishing boats had to be dragged out of the water and well above the high tide line after every trip.  Of the 17 known sites round […]

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Holland Farm

At the centre of the island is the impressive steading of Holland, which until the end of the 19th century was the hub of a large estate which owned all the island and land on Westray and the Mainland as well.  The extensive range of buildings, including a circular mill-tramp, corn-drying kiln etc, date from […]

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St Tredwell’s Chapel

On a small promontory jutting into St Tredwell’s Loch from the east, is a confusion of ruined buildings. At the core of the mound is an Iron Age fortification, but the rectangular walls on the top are those of a medieval chapel. St Tredwell is mentioned in a late medieval account of the mission that […]

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The Holm of Papay

It is sometimes possible to reach the Holm of Papay by local boat.  There are 3 neolithic tombs on this small island.  At the north end is a small stalled cairn, where Unstan ware pottery was also found, which may well have been the burial place of the people who lived at the Knap of […]

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St Boniface Kirk

Two Pictish cross-slabs that were found in the kirkyard at St Boniface are evidence that there has been a kirk on this site since at least the late 7th century – probably originally founded as a base for missionary campaigns among the pagan Picts. The present building dates from the 12th century, and was enlarged […]

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Knap of Howar

The Knap of Howar is not only one of the most significant archaeological sites in Orkney, but the site of the oldest standing houses in northern Europe.  These two buildings are significantly older than the village at Skara Brae, and were inhabited from about 3800 BC by neolithic farmers who grew crops on the fertile […]

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