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Keiss War Memorial

Keiss is in Sutherland, Scotland, on the A99 between Wick and John O’Groats. The War Memorial stands a bit away from any houses in a square plot of land beside the road.

Keiss War Memorial, Sutherland

It is inscribed, “Keiss Quoad Sacra Parish. The dedication is “To the memory of the fallen in the Great War 1914-1919,” and towards the base, “Also 1939-1945,” below which are six names for that second conflict. You can also see here that flat, almost treeless, landscape of north-east Sutherland, which acts as a kind of preview for Orkney:-

Keiss War Memorial Closer View

View towards village, showing Great War names:-

Keiss War Memorial Names

View towards North Sea, showing Great War names:-

Keiss War Memorial

The Causeway at Birsay, Orkney

I was reminded this week of the causeway from mainland Orkney to the Brough (island) of Birsay.

Brough of Birsay, Orkney

The causeway allows access to the island at low tide. You can just see it under the water’s surface to the middle left of the photo above.

At the time of my previous post I didn’t include the video I made of a river of sea water which flowed from north to south under the causeway about halfway across. Below I remedy that omission. Click on the picture to get to the video.

Sea "River" Under Causeway at Birsay, Orkney

Scapa by James Miller

Britain’s Famous Wartime Naval Base

Birlinn, 2000, 191 p.

 Scapa cover

As its subtitle implies this is a short history of the use of Scapa Flow in Orkney as a base for British naval operations. These had marginal beginnings in the Napoleonic Wars but the emergence of Germany as a potential enemy and a threat to North Sea and Atlantic shipping during the run up to the Great War led to proposals for the main British fleet to be stationed there. The outbreak of war saw these brought to fruition and Scapa and Orkney quickly became a home to thousands of men – and in World War 2 many women, who on their nights out were apparently strictly chaperoned. The locals were also in great demand for dances and such. Unlike in the rest of the UK in wartime food was reasonably plentiful on Orkney due to its fertility. Eggs were in good supply and there was never a shortage of mutton!

The book is replete with photographs, with a readily accessible text. The caption to a photo of the men of the Ness Battery in front of a hut mentions the strap designed to hold the hut down during strong winds.

The main incidents are all here; the HMS Vanguard explosion, the loss of HMS Hampshire, the collision of HMS Opal and HMS Narborough, the internment of the German High Seas Fleet in 1918, its Grand Scuttle in 1919, the sinking of HMS Royal Oak, the building of the Churchill Barriers and the Italian Chapel. A quick, easy history of the UK naval presence in Orkney.

Pedant’s corner:- fiand (find – all five instances of this word in this book were spelled in that odd way,) Grand Fleet commander Admiral Sir George Callaghan (is referred to thereafter as Cunningham,) stripped the ships off anything of use (stripped the ships of anything of use.)

Barony Mill, near Birsay, Orkney

This is the last working mill in Orkney but it isn’t commercially viable. It opens in the summer for tourists but does grind grain in winter – the local bere barley etc – for some local consumption and to keep the tradition going.

The young lad that showed us round (off to University later this year) said it was his grandmothe who was the last full-time miller there. Pictures of her at work were on the walls. Quite a thing back then for a woman to be in a job like that.

Barony Mill, near Birsay, Orkney

Old water wheels. They may get round to recommissioning these one day:-

Old mill wheels, Barony Mill

I took four videos. Click on each picture to get to its video.

Water Wheel:-

Barony Wheel Driving Wheel


Gearing, Barony Mill

Lower level workings:-

Barony Mill, Lower Level Workings

Upper level workings:-

Barony Mill Upper Level Workings

Evie War Memorial

Evie is a small village close to the Broch of Gurness in the north of mainland Orkney.

This simple pillar stands to the side of the A 966 road from Evie to Birsay.

War Memorial, Evie, Orkney

The inscription reads, “In memoriam. Died for King and Country in the Great War 1914-1919.”

Inscription, War Memorial, Evie, Orkney

The names on the memorial all date from 1917 and 1918:-

Names, War Memorial, Evie, Orkney

More Names, War Memorial, Evie, Orkney,

Ness Battery, Stromness

The main World War 2 defence artillery battery for the Sound of Hoy was the Ness Battery. A few buildings remain. They have that vaguely Deco style of a lot of World War 2 fortifications. We missed the guided tour so didn’t get the full access. We’d only gone out for an evening stroll.

Ness Battery, Stromness

Ness Battery, Stromness  2

Ness Battery, Stromness 3

Shore Battery. Atlantic/Pentland Firth beyond:-

Shore Battery, Ness Battery, Stromness

Graemsay and Hoy from Ness Battery:-

Graemsay and Hoy from Ness Battery

Birsay, Orkney

The parish and village of Birsay lies at the northwestern end of the mainland of Orkney.

Just off the mainland is the Brough of Birsay. Brough means island:-

Brough of Birsay, Orkney

A causeway allows access to the island at low tide. You can just see the causeway under the water’s surface to the middle left of the photo. The island has a Stevenson lighthouse on it.

Rocks and a standing stone at Birsay:-

Rocks at Birsay, Orkney

More rocks and a small bay at Birsay:-

Rocks and Bay at Birsay, Orkney

The remains of the Palace of a notoriously harsh Earl of Orkney are the main attraction in Birsay itself.

From road in:-

Earl's Palace, Birsay, Orkney, from Road in.

Reverse view:-

Earl's Palace, Birsay, Orkney

Interior 1:-

Earl's Palace, Birsay, Orkney Interior 1

Interior 2:-

Earl's Palace, Birsay, Orkney, Interior 2

Interior 3:-

Earl's Palace, Birsay, Orkney, Interior 3

We did wander round the graveyard of St Magnus Church, and took a walk down to the beach behind it.

Art Deco Lettering, Stromness

I didn’t spot much that could be described as Art Deco on mainland Orkney. The lettering on mosaic background on this shop in Stromness came closest:-

Deco Lettering, Shop, Stromness

Once a soda fountain and coffee salon the shop has now been repurposed to sell clothes:-

Art Deco Lettering, Stromness

Scapa Flow Scenes

Hoy and a boat on Scapa Flow:-

Hoy + Boat

Hoy from ferry across Scapa Flow. The island in the middleground, with the lighthouse, is Cava:-

Hoy from Ferry across Scapa Flow

A yacht on Scapa Flow, Hoy behind:-

Yacht + Hoy from Scapa Flow

Yacht and SS Hamnavoe from Scapa Flow. Island of Graemsay in middle ground:-

Yacht + SS Hamnavoe from Scapa Flow

Hoy and Flotta

On the way back from Lyness on Hoy to Houton on the Orkney mainland the ferry took a slightly different route in order to put off and pick up at the island of Flotta.

Looking back to Hoy from ferry to Flotta :-

Looking back to Hoy from Flotta Ferry

Miltary constructions go back a long way on Orkney. This is one of at least two Martello Towers on Hoy. These date from the Napoleonic wars:-

A Martello Tower, Hoy

Defunct military building on Flotta, Orkney. Plus trees – an unusual sight on Orkney:-

Fortification on Flotta, Orkney

At the Flotta terminal a woman suddenly cried out, “Look. A Seal!”

A Seal, Flotta

Three more seals were basking on the shore on the other side of the ferry:-

Seals on Flotta, Orkney

Structure in mid Scapa Flow. This was too far away from the ferry for me to make it out but it looks like an artificial island:-

Structure in mid Scapa Flow

Oil Terminal at Rinnigill, Flotta, from Flotta-Houton ferry.:-

Oil Terminal at Rinnigill, Flotta

Tanker and Rinnigill Oil Terminal, Flotta:-

Tanker and Rinnigill OilTerminal, Flotta

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