Stronsay lies roughly 12 kilometres north of Mull Head on the East Mainland.
Although the island is only 12 kilometres long, it has a fairly lengthy
and complex coastline which has given it a long association with fishing.
Up until the middle of this century, Whitehall Village was an important
port for the European herring fleets and Orkney's main fishing port with
over 300 drifters working out of the harbour. Many of the buildings in the
village reflect this with the long slate roofed Fishmarket at the pierhead,
and the old, mostly derelict, herring station at the eastern end of the
The Vat of Kirbister
(C) Richard Welsby
Kelp making was also important to Stronsay until the middle of the 19th
century. The long and shallow coastline with easily accessible beaches meant
that shore sea weeds could be gathered with little effort at low tides,
while the many winter storms washed large quantities of deep sea weeds ashore.
The seaweed was gathered and stacked to dry, and then burnt slowly in Kelp-pits
to produce potash and soda. Good examples of Kelp-pits and drying areas
can be found at Grice Ness, east of Whitehall village.
Adjacent to the West Pier, there is an unusual stone built public toilet,
reached by a narrow gangway, which is flushed clear by seawater. A small
house with an upturned boat used as a roof stands nearby - the chimney vents
the smoke from a small stove.
Photograph courtesy of Richard Welsby
Copyright Orknet 1996