Scapa Flow  Orkney


In 1882-4, Frances Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland described Scapa Flow like this:

Scapa Flow, a large expanse of sea interspersed with land in the southern parts of Orkney. Irrespective of lateral recesses and outlets, it measures about 15 miles in extreme length from N to S, 8 miles in mean breadth, and 45 or 47 miles in circumference. In a general view it may be regarded as having Pomona on the N, Burray and South Ronaldshay on the E, the Pentland Firth on the S, the island of Hoy on the W, and the small islands of Cava, Risa, Pharay, Calf, Flotta, Switha, and Hunda in its bosom. ...

In the extreme NW it opens by Hoy Sound, 7 miles in length and 2 in mean breadth, to the Atlantic Ocean; in the NE, it opens by Holm Sound, 3½ miles by 2, to the German Ocean; in the middle of the E side, it opens by Water Sound, 4 miles by ½ mile, to the same ocean; and, in the S, it has the island of Swona near the middle of the line where it becomes identified with the Pentland Firth. This islebegirt sea abounds, in its numerous recesses, with safe roadsteads and fine harbours. The chief is Longhope, in Walls, quite landlocked, capacious enough for the largest fleet, and possessing good anchorage and sufficient depth of water for the largest ship in the British navy; and others are Holm Sound, Widewall Bay, St Margaret's Hope, and Panhope. The tide, at its entering Scapa Flow from the SW, and through the Sound of Hoy, flows with rapidity akin to its current through the Pentland Firth; but it gradually slackens, till its motion becomes scarcely perceptible. At one part of the coast of Graemsay lying in the Sound of Hoy, the current, in consequence of being intercepted by a reef of rocks, runs 9 hours in one direction and 3 in the opposite.

Scapa Flow through time

Scapa Flow is now part of Orkney Islands district. Click here for graphs and data of how Orkney Islands has changed over two centuries. For statistics about Scapa Flow itself, go to Units and Statistics.

How to reference this page:

GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Scapa Flow in Orkney Islands | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.


Date accessed: 13th June 2024

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