The Brough of Birsay is an island that is reached via a tidal causeway from the Point of Buquoy on Mainland. The name derives from the Norse Byrgisey meaning “fortress island”.
Arriving on the island from the causeway there is a Norse settlement dating from the 10th and 11th centuries and a church and monastery from the 12th century.
Walking round the edge of the islands there are some vertiginous cliffs with deep clefts home to many seabirds.
There were plenty of seals visible from the cliffs and I’m beginning to suspect my companion is a selkie as she even managed to spot one swimming under the surface.
At the north west of the island is the lighthouse on Brough Head. This was built by David Alan Stephenson in 1925.
Returning back towards the causeway the rest of the panorama can be viewed.
Back on mainland the walk continues round the coast to Skiba Geo and its boat nousts, recesses dug into the in the cliff tops where fishing boats were stored over winter.
At the headland on the far side of the bay is a whale’s vertebrae mounted on a rib at the end of the 19th century, possibly as a fisherman’s marker. It is known simply as The Whalebone.