Landscape of Stromness


One of the most remarkable features of Stromness is its landscape. Approaching from the sea, the town appears clustered around the harbour, a clutter of stone gables and slate roofs, leading steeply up to Brinkie's Brae. From the winding main street you catch dramatic glimpses of the sea between houses.


From the top of Brinkie’s Brae and along the western coastline there are spectacular vistas across to Graemsay and Hoy. It is quite unlike any other town in Orkney, partly because its geology is so unusual.


StromnessBrinkie’s Brae is formed from granite-schist, unlike the fine-grained sedimentary rocks of the surrounding area. This is one of the only places in Orkney where rocks like these, more characteristic of the western Highlands, are exposed.


Most of Orkney’s landscape is Devonian, formed from sand and mud deposits around 380 million years ago and exposed through movement and erosion. The Lower Stromness Flagstone rock layer, visible around the nearby coast, has provided much of the building material for the town, with its distinctive ochre colour. Due to the fine sediments in the rock, it weathers easily, so many houses have been plastered for protection. The stone gives the town a different feel from the massive blue flagstone widely used in Kirkwall and elsewhere.





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Copyright Morag Mitchell


Brief facts about Stromness


In the days of the herring boom, it’s said you could walk from one end of the town to the other across the decks of boats, they were crammed so tightly into the harbour.


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