The village of Finstown is said to be named after an Irish soldier who settled on Orkney after the Napoleonic wars, and opened an inn, the 'Toddy Hole', now called the Pomona Inn. To the west of the village is a small wood at Binscarth. The area was planted in the 19th century, and contains some 3 hectares of mixed woodland. This area is one of the few places in Orkney where trees abound.

The chambered cairn on Cuween Hill was built between 3000 and 2000 BC. It consists of a long entryway leading to a rectangular central chamber with a smaller cell off of each wall of the main chamber. The cairn was opened in 1901, and the remains of eight burials were discovered within, along with the extraordinary find of twenty four dog skulls on the floor of the chamber.

Aerial view of Damsay, the Holm of Grimbister, and Finstown
(C) Richard Welsby

At Rennibister farm there is an interesting Souterrain or earth house which was discovered in 1926 when a part of the farmyard collapsed under the weight of a threshing machine. The house consists of a gently sloping passageway which descends to an oval chamber. When the house was discovered, the entrance to the passage was choked with domestic refuse consisting of shells and black earth. The chamber itself was clear of debris, but a number of human bones were discovered on the floor. It is thought unlikely that the house was built as a burial chamber, and that the remains were interred at some later date.

Photograph courtesy of Richard Welsby

Copyright Orknet 1996