Holm of Papa

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Holm of Papa
Holm of Papa, viewed across South Wick, from Papa Westray
Holm of Papa, viewed across South Wick, from Papa Westray
Holm of Papa is located in Orkney Islands
Holm of Papa
Holm of Papa
Holm of Papa shown within Orkney
OS grid reference HY507519
Physical geography
Island group Orkney
Area 21 ha[1]
Highest elevation 15 m
Political geography
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Country Scotland
Council area Orkney Islands
Population 0[2]
References [3][4]

The Holm of Papa (or Holm of Papay, Holm of Papa Westray and known locally as the Papay Holm,[5][6][7]) is a very small uninhabited island in the Orkney islands. It is around 21 hectares (52 acres) in size.[1] It can be visited from its neighbouring island Papa Westray, or Papay, an island less than a hundred metres west of the Holm.

The main sight on the small island is the Southcairn, a 20 metre long chambered cairn dating from approx. 3000 BC on whose stones one can find ancient carvings.[8] The long, stalled cairn, built of local stone, was once a communal burial place for the bones of an ancient community. It is protected by a modern roof and entered by a trapdoor from above. It is possible that the inhabitants of the Knap of Howar buried their dead here. There are three ancient chambered cairns on the holm. Visitors can arrange privately for small boat access through the Co-op shop on Papa Westray. The cairn is readily visible from the larger island.

“Eyebrow motif” carvings found in the southernmost chambered cairn bear a resemblance to the "eyes" of the Orkney Venus found at Links of Noltland on Westray.[7]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Rick Livingstone’s Tables of the Islands of Scotland" (pdf) Argyll Yacht Charters. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  2. National Records of Scotland (15 August 2013) (pdf) Statistical Bulletin: 2011 Census: First Results on Population and Household Estimates for Scotland - Release 1C (Part Two). "Appendix 2: Population and households on Scotland’s inhabited islands". Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  3. Haswell-Smith, Hamish (2004). The Scottish Islands. Edinburgh: Canongate. ISBN 978-1-84195-454-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Ordnance Survey: Landranger map sheet 5 Orkney (Northern Isles) (Map). Ordnance Survey. 2008. ISBN 9780319228111.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. [1] papawestray.co.uk.
  6. [2] themodernantiquarian.com.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Eyebrows link Westray figurine with burial chamber" Orkneyjar. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  8. "Holm of Papay". Papay Development Trust. Retrieved 2008-10-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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