The Scapa Flow Landscape Partnership Scheme

Sea battle at Scapa Flow

Norsemen used Scapa Flow as a base for their warships, just as the Admiralty did during the 20th century's two world wars. This deep, sheltered natural harbour has been the site of naval action for thousands of years.

The Norsemen had a favourite spot they named Midlands Haven. We know it today as Houton, and the site well known to thousands of men during the two world wars.

In 1154 Sweyn Asliefsson sailed into Scapa Flow with his seven ships. It was October and he arrived during a night of wind and driving sleet to do battle with the Earls of Orkney. They came equipped with 14 ships but Sweyn was the victor.

In 1263 Earl Haakon Haakonson assembled a great fleet in the Flow before he set off for Largs. When his ships returned, battered by the winter storms, they sheltered at Houton over the winter.

From Scapa Flow the Norsemen sailed for the Holy Land in their small longships, and they also set sail to take part in their annual raids on England and Ireland.