Papa Westray, or Papay as it is known locally, is a small island roughly 7 kilometres long by 2 kilometres wide lying to the east of Westray. It can be reached from Westray by the shortest scheduled flight in the world, 2.4 kilometres in total, taking less than two minute actual flying time.

The Knap of Howar, like Skara Brae on the West Mainland was covered by a protective layer of sand and exposed by a violent storm. The site consists of two remarkably well preserved stone built houses which lay side by side on the western shore of Papay. Radiocarbon dating of animal bones left by the inhabitants indicates that the houses were built at some time between 3700 and 2800 BC, some 5000 years ago. This makes the site the earliest known settlement in Orkney.


Knap of Howar
(C) Richard Welsby

The Holm of Papay, a small island off the east coast of Papay is the site of one of Orkney's most impressive chambered cairns. The cairn is roughly 35 metres long and 17 metres wide, and contains 10 single and 2 double side chambers. The tomb contains a number of stones decorated by the builders, with one of the walls carved with a number of zig-zags and circular patterns.

St Treadwell's Loch is the site of a Broch mound and extensive Iron Age remains. On the top of the mound are the remains of a medieval chapel dedicated to St Triduana, this was a popular pilgrimage site up until the 18th century.

St Boniface Church, on the west coast of Papay, dates from the 12th century and was extended around the turn of the 18th century. The buildings have been recently restored.

Fowl Crag, on the north eastern coast, is the site where the last Great Auk was killed in 1813. The cliff is a breeding ground for a large number of seabirds including Kiitiwakes, Razorbills, Guillemots, and Fulmar.


Photograph courtesy of Richard Welsby


Copyright Orknet 1996