Papa Westray

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Papa Westray, an island of Westray parish, Orkney, 1¼ mile E of the northern part of Westray island, and 22¼ miles in a direct line N by E of Kirkwall, but 25 by the shortest sea-route. Its utmost length, from N by E to S by W, is 43/8 miles; and its breadth varies between ¼ and 11/8 mile. The surface culminates in North Hill (156 feet), beyond which the northern extremity forms a bold and lofty headland, the Mull of Papa, well known to mariners, and pierced with a cavern, from 48 to 60 feet wide, and upwards of 70 feet high. The southern half is partly occupied by a freshwater lake, the Loch of St Tredwall (7 x 3½ furl.), on an islet in which are ruins of a pre-Reformation chapel. The soil, to the extent of some 1000 acres, is very fertile, and under regular cultivation. Midway along the E coast is a pastoral islet, the Holm of Papa, which is denizened by myriads of sea-fowl. The whole island of Papa Westray, with the exception of a small glebe, belongs to a single proprietor, Thomas Traill (b. 1822; suc. 1840), who holds 5780 acres, valued at £1629 per annum. His mansion, Holland, stands near the middle of the island, in which are also a remarkably large Picts' house and three vitrified cairns, and which was the scene of the death of Ronald, Earl of Orkney, by the hand of Thorfinn, Earl of Caithness. Anciently a separate and independent parish, Papa Westray, though now annexed to Westray, has still its own parish church, besides a Free church and a public school. Pop. (1838) 335, (1861) 392, (1871) 370, (1881) 345.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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