Hoy, the second largest island in the archipelago, south and west of the mainland some l4 miles by 6 miles is steep, heather clad and hilly, contrasting visibly with the rest of the islands, its name means ‘high island‘, and indeed it has the highest hill in Orkney, Ward Hill, 1570 ft, and in the north its Cuilags rise to 1,420 ft.
Moreover, where the Cuilags meet the Atlantic at St John‘s Head. There is the highest perpendicular cliff in Britain, rising to 1,140 ft and 2 miles thence southwards is the world famous Old Man of Hoy, ‘Orkney's oldest inhabitant‘, an isolated columnar peak of red sandstone standing 450 ft on a small peninsula half way out to sea.
- Hoy Geolocation Latitude 58.8550° N Longitude -3.3256° W
- Hoy Postcode KW16
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Some of the grandest seagirt scenery in all Orkney is around this extremity of Hoy, but the island is also a treasure house of botanical specimens, with a rich variety of rare alpines and the only indigenous trees in the archipelago, such as rowan, hazel. aspen and sallow. But Hoy also has its antiquities, notably the 'Dwarﬁe Stone' (1900 B.c.) the only rock cut tomb in the British Isles, lt consists of a huge block of sandstone 23 ft by l3 ft, within which two cells have been hollowed out, and is assumed to be a Neolithic burial chamber, it plays a part in Sir Walter Scott's The Pirate.
Hoy, This island is famed for its isolated red sandstone rock stack, The Old Man of Hoy, which stands as high as St Paul's Cathedral in London: 450 ft. Hoy itself is heather covered and hilly and is quite unlike the rest of Orkney.
On the Atlantic side of the island are the highest perpendicular cliffs in Britain, rising to I I40 ft from the sea, at St John's Head. Behind this headland lies the ruined hamlet of Rackwick, once a thriving crofting community and now a mere visual memory striking a responsive chord from the past.
The Dwarfie Stane on the island of Hay is a Stone Age rock tomb, with a corridor and two chambers carved out of the solid stone; it is the only example of its kind in Britain. Hoy has two Martello towers, at Crockness and Hackness.
Unlike those built in the south of England, to warn against the approach of Napoleon's ships, these were built as a defence against American privateers.