In Scapa Flow below the cliffs of Gaitnip in the Parish of Holm (pronounced
'Ham'), lies a green marker buoy. This is the marker for the site of HMS
Royal Oak sunk by the German U-boat U47 on the 13th of October 1939 with
the loss of 833 lives. The site is an official war grave, and diving is
strictly forbidden here. There is a memorial to the men who lost their lives
in St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall.
The village of St Mary's was an important fishing station during the herring
fishing years. St. Mary's loch is visited by many migrant birds, and is
home to mute swans. Near to the northern end of the loch is a low mound,
the site of a broch.
Graemeshall is home to the Norwood Collection, a remarkable collection of
antiques gathered over fifty years by Norris Wood. The collection is spread
over five rooms of the house, and contains furniture, clocks, watches, and
fine china. The house is open certain weekdays between May and September.
The parish of Holm is connected to the southern islands of Lambholm, Glimsholm,
Burray, and South Ronaldsay by the Churchill Barriers. The causeways were
built on the order of Winston Churchill after the sinking of the Royal Oak,
in order to close the channels between the islands. A large proportion of
the labour involved in building the barriers was provided by Italian prisoners
of war, and across the first barrier, on the island of Lambholm stands the
Italian Chapel. This remarkable and beautiful monument was built from two
nissen huts joined together, with the inside lined with plasterboard and
hand painted to resemble brick and carved marble. A beautiful painting of
the Madonna and Child is painted on the wall behind the altar. It is a place
of great tranquillity. No trip to Orkney is complete without a visit to
the Italian Chapel.
The Italian Chapel
(C) Richard Welsby
Photograph courtesy of Richard Welsby
Copyright Orknet 1996