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  • Churchill Barriers The consisting of thousands of large concrete blocks. were built on the orders of Winston Churchill early in the Second World War by Italian prisoners of war. shortly after HMS Royal Oak had been sunk by a German L7-boat in the great naval anchorage of Scapa Flow.

    • Scapa Flow Latitude Geolocation 58.9000° N Longitude -3.0500° W
    • Scapa Flow Postcode KW16
    • Scapa Flow WOEID 34155
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    These impregnable defences linked the mainland through the tiny islands of Glims Holm and Lamb Holm with Burray and South Ronaldsay, and shortly after the war a road was constructed on top of them giving easy access from the mainland to the southernmost point in the archipelago at Burwick, near Brough Ness. On Lamb Holm there is the remarkable little Italian Chapel built by the same prisoners of war out of waste materials inside a nissen hut. The interior is extremely beautiful and contains some remarkable freehand painting. The chapel has been carefully preserved and is well worth a visit.

    • Kirkwall Geolocation Latitude 58.984674 Longitude: -2.962249
    • Kirkwall Postcode KW15
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    Kirkwall stands on the northern end of the Kirkwall-Scapa isthmus which divides Mainland into eastern and western parts. 
    The town dominated by its splendid 800 year old cathedral spreads up the hillside from the harbour. 
    Historically Kirkwall has been the main island centre since it was a Norse trading centre and today it combines its role of capital with that of shopping and business centre. When visiting the island B&B is one of the best solutions for your holiday base with its flexibility travelling from one B&B to another, but Kirkwall also offers Hotels, Guest Houses and Self Catering as well as B&B accommodation.

    Notable events include the Christmas and New Years Day Ba' Games when the Uppies play the Downies, symbolizing the ancient rivalry between the bishop's ecclesiastical town and the secular authority represented by the now vanished castle.

    Kirkwall capital of Orkney for many centuries and indeed a cathedral city, has become increasingly worthy of that title with the advent of North Sea oil to the island of Flotta, lt was the main seat of the Norsemen throughout their six centuries of occupation up to the mid l5th century and it was the natural choice of site when Earl Rognvald decided to build a great cathedral as a monument to his saintly uncle Magnus, who had been martyred some twenty years earlier.

    The Cathedral is of fiagstone and red and yellow sandstone and in massive Romanesque style, It measures 234 ft in length and 101 ft across the transepts.

    The ravages of Croinwellian troops, common throughout Scotland, have long since been repaired, and there is an interesting series of tombstones marking Kirkwall’s eminent men from the 16th century to the present day, a plaque commemorates the 833 men lost in the Royal Oak in 1939 at Scapa Flow. There is a l9th century rose window at the south end, but the ‘keeled’ shafts of the clustered piers supporting the tower and the mouldings of the tower arches are ofthe 12th century.

    St Magnus Cathedral would be impressive in any mainland site, but its setting on the island mainland of Orkney makes it the most outstanding building anywhere in the Scottish islands. It

    also has the oddity that, while it is ‘the Parish Church of Kirkwall and St Ola’ and the services are those of the Church of Scotland, it does not belong to any denomination but is the property of the town, and its people through a Royal Charter of James111 in 1486, when he directed the Burgh Council of Kirkwall to be responsible for its maintenance.

    In the Cathedral are preserved the remains of St Magnus and his nephew, which were found almost accidentally during repairs between 1919 and 1926.

    The excellent state ofthe Cathedral interior was mainly attributable to repairs completed in 1916 with a handsome bequest by George Hunter Thoms, Sheriff of Orkney and Shetland 1870 to 1899, but some years ago it became apparent that all was not well with the fabric, cracking and distortion appeared, and the west Gable was being pushed outwards, it was thought that an earthquake in 1927 was the root of the trouble.

    An appeal was immediately launched for £50,000 to cover vital and urgent repairs, and for a further £250,000 to ensure a more extensive preservation.

    In 1974 Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was able to attend a service of thanksgiving in the Cathedral when the first target had been reached and some  repairs done. Much activity continues towards the second target, including the revival of the Old Lammas Market now termed St Magnus Fair, on the third Wednesday of August each year.

    The old town of Kirkwall clusters round the Cathedral and is notable for its handsome Scandinavian type buildings and streets without pavements, Near the Cathedral are the ruins of the

    12th century Bishop’s Palace with its massive tower and the Earl’s Palace, built about 1600 for the hated Earl Patrick Stewart but described as the ‘most mature and accomplished piece of Renaissance architecture in Scotland‘.

    Opposite is the interesting museum of Tankerness House, with its fine collection of Orkney relics and beautiful gardens, forming a welcome oasis in this bustling town, now humming with the polyglot tongues of sailor men and oilmen.

  • Scapa distillery is on Orkney on the shore of Scapa Flow near the town of Kirkwall. It is the second most northern whisky distillery in Scotland, half a mile south of the Highland Park Distillery.

    Once boasting the longest fermentation time in the industry at 120 hours. Scapa's fruitiness remains prominent in the wash, and is further refined by distillation in a Lomond-style still.

    • Scapa Distillery Geolocation Latitude 58.963486 Longitude -2.985213
    • Scapa Distillery Postcode KW15 1SE
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    These stills were designed in the late 1950s in an attempt to create multiple different flavours from a single pot. The barrel-like necks contained moveable copper baffle plates which could be manipulated to create different levels of reflux.

    Today the plates have been removed, but the amount of copper in the necks is still massive. A purifier pipe increases reflux even further, and adds its usual oiliness.

    The result is a character that is enhanced by maturation in American oak and refill casks.

  • This is an almost land locked area of deep water, up to 10 m. wide, which the British Government decided in 1912 should be adapted as the main base of the Grand Fleet in case of a European War, and substantial Royal Navy establishments were for many years subsequently an important aspect of Orkney‘s economy.

    But the defences were penetrated by a German submarine in 1914, and they did not become virtually impregnable until, after another German U-boat had sunk H.M.S. Royal Oak on 14 October 1939, only five Weeks after the outbreak of the Second World War, Winston Churchill ordered the construction of the Churchill Barriers Here also, at the end of the First World War, the German Navy having surrendered to the Allies, sailed in their fleet and scuttled or beached the ships before they could be taken over. Now the main traffic on this beautiful stretch of sheltered water consists of ships and ferries plying between Kirkwall, Stromness and the other islands and Scotland, and the variegated fleet engaged on oil business.

    • Scapa Flow Latitude Geolocation 58.9000° N Longitude -3.0500° W
    • Scapa Flow Postcode KW16
    • Scapa Flow WOEID 34155
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    Scapa Flow is a large protected sea area that has earned its name in British history as an important naval base in both world wars.

    It contains Flotta, now an oil tanker terminal and landfall for undersea pipelines from the oilfields of the North Sea to the east. Scapa saw some 74 warships, the greater part of the German fleet, brought here and either beached by their crews or scuttled in June 1919 on the orders of RearAdmiral Ludwig von Reuter.

    Many of the ships have since been salvaged. Others remain as an attractive underwater prey for divers on the hunt for souvenirs or just to satisfy curiosity. In the Second world war, huge convoys of ships gathered here before being escorted across the seas to Russia and to America.

    In an attempt to close off the eastern approaches to Scapa Flow, the massive Churchill Barriers were erected in the 1940s, mainly by Italian prisoners of war. A reminder of their stay in Orkney is seen on the little island of Lamb Holm where, inside two Nissen huts, the Italians constructed a beautiful chapel, using scrap materials with a high degree of ingenuity. The chapel was rededicated in 1960 when the designer, Domenico Chiocchcui, a gifted artist, returned to restore some of his paintings.