Flotta is a small island which forms part of the Orcadian archipelago. Explore the Second World War sites which are scattered across the island, and learn more about the island’s history, both recent and long-passed, at the local heritage centre.
Ask an Islander
We asked locals on Flotta to tell us why their island is special. Here’s what they said:
Sitting at the entrance to Scapa Flow, this small island has a big wartime history, and played an important role as a base for the Royal Navy. Flotta played an important role during both World Wars as a strategic naval base. Thousands of servicemen and women were stationed on the island and reminders of the conflict can be found across the landscape.
During the Second World War, the Neb Battery looked over towards the Hackness Martello Tower in Hoy. The remains of the many huts and buildings can be explored including the pump house, the lower dam, higher dam as well as the battery and ammunition stores. Again during the Second World War, the island hosted a boxing match with an audience of around 10,000 troops. A photograph of the event can be found in the Imperial War Museum in London.
These days, the remains of military buildings and structures can still be found across the island and often provide excellent places to observe the local wildlife or admire views across Scapa Flow.
From the island’s highest point, The Witter, you can enjoy panoramic views across to the Hoy hills, Mainland Orkney, Burray and South Ronaldsay. Here, it is even possible to see the towns of Kirkwall and Stromness at the same time.
The oil terminal, which opened in 1976, can be found on the north side of the island. The 223-foot flare is now a much-recognised landmark.
A sculptured slab found at the site of a ruin of what is thought to be an ancient church is now part of the National Museum of Scotland’s collections in Edinburgh. Named the Flotta Stone, it is thought to date back to the 8th century.
Visitors are often surprised by the ‘forest’ created in the Second World War when the Royal Navy planted 1,000 trees. Only around 10 per cent survived the Orkney climate, but the oil terminal operators have since added a further 40,000 trees and shrubs.