The German High Seas Fleet at Anchor in Scapa Flow 1918-19
The Martello Tower at the Hackness Battery
Scapa Flow is one of Britain's most historic stretches of water.
Its sheltered waters have been used by ships since prehistory and it has played an important role in travel, trade and conflict throughout the centuries - especially during both World Wars.
Vikings anchored their longships in Scapa Flow more than a thousand years ago, and many of the names surrounding the ‘Flow’ reflect its Norse Heritage. Scapa Flow itself derives its name from Old Norse Skalpaflói, meaning "bay of the long isthmus") and there’s the name Hoy or Haey which means High Island and your guide lives in Longhope or by the long bay, the word ‘hope’ being the Old Norse word for bay.
In the Napoleonic era the Hackness Battery and Martello Tower was built to prevent American and French Privateers entering the Longhope to attack British Ships at Anchor. The Battery and Tower are open to the public please use the link on the right for more information.
The Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery Lyness & WW2 Royal Navy Command Centre in the Background on Wee Fea
Scapa Flow is the second largest a natural harbour in the world, 125 square miles, sheltered from the wind and rough seas which surround Orkney, This shelter was used as naval base for the Royal Navy during both world wars
In WW1 it was the base of the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet, and was the Final resting place of the German High Seas Fleet, who opted to scuttle their ships rather than hand them over to the Allied Nations. Both fleets fought at the Battle of Jutland in 1916, the largest sea battle ever fought by the Royal Navy.
It is also the resting place of HMS Vanguard and her crew, the ship blew apart in 1917.
HMS Hampshire departed from Scapa Flow in 1916 on a secret mission to Russia, she too was lost taking down with her 737 crew and passengers including Lord Kitchener the Minister for War
In WW2 Scapa Flow was the base for the Royal Navy’s Home Fleet, from where the sea war was taken West to the Atlantic to battle German Submarines, North to escort the Artic Convoys to Russia and East to attack the German Navy and destroy ships, such as the Bismark and Schornhorst.
In Scapa Flow lies the War Grave of HMS Royal Oak, wich sank with 834 lost lives in October 1939 as a result of a daring torpedo attack by the German Submarine, U47. WW2 saw the islands population soar to 20,000 a far cry from the 400 islanders who live here now.
We will design you your very own personalised wartime tour which can include, any aspect of Hoy's amazing legacy of conflict Each tour will be unique and tailored to suit the individual party for their prior approval.
Please advise us of any particular intetest, as we will use our local knowledge to find the answers. For example, on one particular occasion, we managed to take a gentleman to the very building in which his father worked in WW2.
So it really would be worth running your enquiries by us.
All Wartime Tours will end (unless otherwise requested) at the Scapa Flow Visitor Centre and Museum temporary exhibition, where you have plenty of time to be guided or left free to wander and discover many facts and sights in this interesting collection which has been put in place whilst the main museum undergoes major renovation.
WW2 Pier at Lyness
Click this image to acces the Island of Hoy Development Trust Legacies of Conflict Project
Image credited to Orkney Library and Archive
Click anywhere on the image for a link to more information on Visitor Centre opening time etc.
With thanks to the Island of Hoy Development Trust