Papa Westray

The Holm of Papay

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The Holm, Papa Westray

The Holm from Papa Westray - photograph by Douglas Hourston

About Papa Westray

Papa Westray, known affectionately as Papay, is one of Orkney's smallest isles lying some 20 miles north of Kirkwall. Just 4 miles long by 1 mile wide, Papay is a fascinating and diverse place to visit, steeped in history but with a lively population which has increased from 65 in the 2001 census to 90 'usual residents' in the 2011 census. The map below comes from Google. It is best viewed by clicking 'View Larger Map'.

Papa Westray from the south - photograph by Anne Hourston

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Papay is green and fertile and because of this has been home to farming activity for at least 5,000 years. Indeed, Historic Scotland lists nearly 60 archaeological sites on Papay, an astonishing testimony to the immense period of human habitation. These range from the Knap of Howar, the oldest known standing northern European houses, built and occupied a millennium before the pyramids, through a huge chambered tomb on the Holm of Papay, to St Boniface Kirk founded in the early years of Christianity in the Northern Isles, down to small finds of stone axes.

Papay Fire Engine

Papay fire engine

Today, farming is still one of the main activities of the islanders, especially the production of excellent beef cattle. Holland Farm maintains a fine range of traditional stone buildings including a doo'cot,horse tramp mill, a kiln and also an agricultural museum. Local folk are also involved in lobster and crab fishing, art, building, crafts, tourism, writing and computer-based work - and essential island services such as the airport, community co-op, pier, nursing and fire service.

Papa Westray has a maritime climate with the Atlantic Ocean on the west and the North Sea to the east.

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