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Holm and Paplay

"Holm, a parish in the SE of Orkney. Comprising the ancient ecclesiastical districts of Holm and Paplay, the former on the W, the latter on the E, it includes a south-eastern section of Pomona and the island of Lambholm; and contains, on the S coast of its Pomona section, 7 miles SE by S of Kirkwall, the village of St Mary's Holm, with a post office under Kirkwall. Its Pomona section is bounded NE by St Andrews and Deerness, E by the German Ocean, S by Holm Sound, SW and W by Scapa Flow, and NW by Kirkwall. ...

Its utmost length, from NW to SE, is 6 miles; its utmost breadth is 3¾ miles; and its area is 8451 acres. The Pomona section has mostly rocky shores; projects the headlands of Roseness to the SE, and of Howquoy or Skeldequoy to the SW; contains several small lakes; has mostly thin, loamy, tolerably fertile soil; and resembles, in its agriculture, the rest of Pomona. Holm Sound, separating Pomona from Burray, and varying in breadth from 1½ mile to 2½ miles, contains Lambholm Island towards its centre and Glimsholm Island nearer Burray; affords secure anchorage over most of its extent, and much shelter contiguous to Lambholm; and has, on its NW coast, a pier where vessels of 50 tons may unload. The herring and cod fisheries are extensively carried on. Two proprietors hold each an annual value of more, and three of less, than £100. Holm is in the presbytery of Kirkwall and synod of Orkney; the living is worth £190. The parish church stands on the S coast, and was built in 1818. There are also a Free church (1870) and a U.P. church; and two public schools, East and West, with respective accommodation for 60 and 120 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 43 and 65, and grants of £35, 13s. 6d. and £72, 13s. 6d. Valuation (1860) £1195, (1881) £2766, 15s. Pop. (1801) 871, (1831) 747, (1861) 834, (1871) 935, (1881) 1090."

From Francis Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, 1882-4


A More Enterprising Spirit - The Parish and People of Holm in 18th Century Orkney: by Sheena Wenham. Published by Bellavista, Kirkwall 2001. In print.
A splendid insight into local life.

The Church in Orkney: edited by Alfred W. Johnston. Published in The Orcadian October 1889-February 1993, Kendal 1940.
Includes excerpts from the Kirk Session Minutes for Holm and Paplay from 1673-1764.


You can also perform a more selective search for churches in the Holm and Paplay area that are recorded in the GENUKI church database. This will also help identify other churches in nearby townships and/or parishes. You also have the option to see the location of the churches marked on a map.

Church Records

Old Parish Registers

  • Baptisms, 1654-1854. No entries 1692-97. Duplicate record 1697-1760. Very incomplete 1703-09.
  • Marriages, 1654-1699. Only one entry Dec 1674-Mar 1677 and no entries for 1681-92.
  • Burials, 1765-1796.

Other chuurch records (held at Orkney Archives in Kirkwall).

  • Ref: OCR/KC/13: St. Nicholas Kirk Commumion Roll 1946-1959, Proclamtions of marriage banns 1933-1945.

Civil Registration

The Registrar of births, deaths, and marriages for the parish of Holm and Paplay.
The Registrar's records extend back only as far as 1st January 1855 when registration became compulsory in Scotland.

Description and Travel

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Historical Geography

You can see the administrative areas in which Holm and Paplay has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.


You can see maps centred on OS grid reference HY495035 (Lat/Lon: 58.915908, -2.878560), Holm and Paplay which are provided by: