The Scapa Flow Landscape Partnership Scheme


The name Burray comes from the Old Norse borgarey, 'island of the broch'. There are the remains of at least two brochs on the island. One is still of a substantial size and can be seen on the headland on the land at Northfield.

Burray is around four miles long and a mile broad. It is no longer an island, as it was joined to the mainland during World War II with the completion of the Churchill Barriers.

Burray Fishing Station © Orkney Library & Archive

The village in Burray is a former fishing port. The village grew during the 19th century in response to the herring fishing. For several weeks of the year, followers of the herring stayed in the village and needed provisions and supplies. The present Sands Hotel was built as a coopering and curing station.

Burray village

The completion of the Churchill Barriers saw Burray being cut off from direct access to the fishing grounds and the industry gradually died out.

Nearby, the Duncan family produced several generations of boat builders.

© Bryce Wilson