The East Mainland is mainly agricultural land though, and it contains little of the amazing archaeological wealth of its western counterpart, there are some attractive fishing villages, fine coastal walks and many poignant reminders of Orkney's important wartime role.
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Local Sights & Activities for East Mainland
The Churchill Barriers
East Mainland is linked to a string of islands to the south by four causeways, known as the Churchill Barriers, built on the orders of Prime Minister Winston Churchill during the Second World War as anti-submarine barriers to protect the British Navy which was based in Scapa Flow at the time. His decision was prompted by the sinking of the battleship HMS Royal Oak in October 1939 by a German U-boat which had slipped between the old blockships, deliberately sunk during the First World War to protect Scapa Flow, and the shore. After the war, a road was built on top of the causeways, linking the islands of Lamb Holm, Glimps Holm, Burray and South Ronaldsay to Mainland.
On the island of Lamb Holm camps were built to accommodate the men working on the construction of the barriers, many of whom were Italian Prisoners of War. The camps have long since gone, but the Italians left behind the remarkable Italian Chapel, fittingly known as 'The Miracle of Camp 60'. It is difficult to believe that such a beautiful building could have been made using two Nissen huts, concrete and bits of scrap metal, and the chapel's enduring popularity with visitors is a tribute to the considerable artistic skill of the men involved. One of them, Domenico Chiochetti, returned in 1960 to restore the interior paintwork. Info - Open all year during daylight hours. Free.
On the island of Burray the road passes the Orkney Fossil and Vintage Centre, which houses a bizarre collection of old furniture, various relics and 350 million-year-old fish fossils found locally. There's also an archive room where you can browse through old books and photographs, and a coffee shop. Not really something to go out of your way for, but worth a look if it's raining. Info - Apr-Sep daily 1000-1800; Oct Wed-Sun 1030-1800. Adult £2.
East Mainland Hotels & Accommodation