Hoy is an island in Orkney, Scotland. With an area of 143 square kilometres (55 sq mi) it is the second largest in the archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

 after the Mainland. It is connected by a causeway called The Ayre to South Walls
South Walls
South Walls is an inhabited island adjacent to Hoy in Orkney, Scotland. The name is a corruption of "Sooth Was", which means the "southern voes" - as with Kirkwall, it was assumed that it was a mispronunciation of "walls"....

. Unusually, the two islands are treated as one entity by the UK census.


The dramatic coastline of Hoy greets visitors travelling to Orkney by ferry from the Scottish mainland. It has extremes of many kinds: some of the highest sea cliffs in the UK at St John's Head, which reach 350 metres (1,148.3 ft); the impressive and famous sea stack, the Old Man of Hoy
Old Man of Hoy
The Old Man of Hoy is a sea stack of red sandstone perched on a plinth of igneous basalt rock, close to Rackwick Bay on the west coast of the island of Hoy, in the Orkney Islands, Scotland. It is a distinctive landmark seen from the Thurso to Stromness ferry, MV Hamnavoe, and is a famous rock climb...

; some of the most northerly surviving natural woodland in the British Isles; the remote possibility that Arctic Char
Arctic char
Arctic char or Arctic charr is both a freshwater and saltwater fish in the Salmonidae family, native to Arctic, sub-Arctic and alpine lakes and coastal waters. No other freshwater fish is found as far north. It is the only species of fish in Lake Hazen, on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic...

 survive in Heldale Water and the most northerly Martello Towers
Martello tower
Martello towers are small defensive forts built in several countries of the British Empire during the 19th century, from the time of the Napoleonic Wars onwards....

, which were built to defend the area during the Napoleonic War
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

, but were never used in combat.

The highest point in Orkney, Ward Hill
Ward Hill, Hoy
Ward Hill, on the island of Hoy, is the highest hill in Orkney, Scotland. It lies at the north of the island, between Moaness and Rackwick.The hill forms a curved ridge, reminiscent of a 'J' in shape. The lower slopes are covered in heather and grass, though the top of the ridge is covered in small...

, is found on Hoy.

The main naval base for the British fleet Scapa Flow
Scapa Flow
right|thumb|Scapa Flow viewed from its eastern endScapa Flow is a body of water in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, United Kingdom, sheltered by the islands of Mainland, Graemsay, Burray, South Ronaldsay and Hoy. It is about...

 in both the First
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 and Second
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 World Wars was situated at Lyness
Lyness is a village on the east coast of the island of Hoy, Orkney.During the 1920's Lyness was briefly the headquarters of the metal salvage firm of Cox and Danks's raising of the German High Seas Fleet, scuttled by the Germans on June 21st 1919 during the Armistice.During the Second World War it...

 in the south-east of the island. Some rather incongruous art deco structures nearby date from this period.

An unusual rock-cut tomb, the Dwarfie Stane
Dwarfie Stane
The Dwarfie Stane is a megalithic chambered tomb carved out of a titanic block of Devonian Old Red Sandstone located in a steep-sided glaciated valley between the settlements of Quoys and Rackwick on Hoy, an island in Orkney, Scotland....

, lies in the Rackwick valley in the north of the island. It is unique in northern Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, bearing similarity to Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 or Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 tombs around the Mediterranean
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

. The tomb gets its name as it is very small and was said to be carved by dwarves.

In Norse mythology
Norse mythology
Norse mythology, a subset of Germanic mythology, is the overall term for the myths, legends and beliefs about supernatural beings of Norse pagans. It flourished prior to the Christianization of Scandinavia, during the Early Middle Ages, and passed into Nordic folklore, with some aspects surviving...

, Hoy is the location of the never-ending battle between Hedin and Högni
Hedin and Högni
Hjaðningavíg , the legend of Heðinn and Hǫgni or the Saga of Hild is a Scandinavian legend from Norse mythology about a never-ending battle which is documented in Sörla þáttr, Ragnarsdrápa, Gesta Danorum, Skíðaríma and in Skáldskaparmál. It is also held to appear on the image stone at Stora Hammar...


Orkney Ferries
Orkney Ferries
Orkney Ferries is a company operating inter-island ferry services in Orkney, to the north of mainland Scotland.-History:The company is owned by the Orkney Islands Council and was established in 1960 as the Orkney Islands Shipping Company....

 serve the island with two routes. One links Lyness on Hoy and Longhope
Longhope, Orkney
Longhope is a coastal settlement on the island of South Walls which is one of the Orkney Islands off the northern coast of Scotland. South Walls is linked to Hoy by causeway; Longhope is the largest settlement on the two islands....

 on Walls with the island of Flotta
Flotta is a small island in Orkney, Scotland, lying in Scapa Flow. The island is known for its large oil terminal and is linked by Orkney Ferries to Houton on the Orkney Mainland and Lyness and Longhope on Hoy....

 and Houton
Houton is a settlement 5 miles southeast of Stromness on the island of Mainland, Orkney, Scotland. From here, a ferry sails to Lyness on Hoy and the oil terminal at Flotta. Nearby are the remains of the round church of St Nicholas and the Earl's Bu, the ruins of a former manor house of the Earldom...

 on the Orkney Mainland. The other links Moaness in Hoy to the island of Graemsay
Graemsay is an island in the western approaches to Scapa Flow, in the Orkney Islands of Scotland. The island has two lighthouses.-Geography and geology:...

 and Stromness
Stromness is the second-biggest town in Orkney, Scotland. It is in the south-west of Mainland Orkney. It is also a parish, with the town of Stromness as its capital.-Etymology:...

 on Orkney Mainland.

Hoy is part of the Hoy and West Mainland National Scenic Area
National Scenic Area
National Scenic Area is a designation for areas of natural beauty used by more than one nation.* National Scenic Area * National Scenic Area * National scenic areas in Taiwan* National Scenic Area...

, one of 40 in Scotland.


The northern part of the island is an RSPB reserve
Nature reserve
A nature reserve is a protected area of importance for wildlife, flora, fauna or features of geological or other special interest, which is reserved and managed for conservation and to provide special opportunities for study or research...

 due to its importance for birdlife, particularly Great skua
Great Skua
The Great Skua, Stercorarius skua, is a large seabird in the skua family Stercorariidae. In Britain, it is sometimes known by the name Bonxie, a Shetland name of unknown origin.-Description:...

s and red-throated diver
Red-throated Diver
The Red-throated Loon or Red-throated Diver is a migratory aquatic bird found in the northern hemisphere. It breeds primarily in Arctic regions, and winters in northern coastal waters. It is the most widely distributed member of the loon or diver family. Ranging from in length, the Red-throated...

s. It was sold to the RSPB by the Hoy Trust for a minimal amount.
Anastrepta orcadensis
Anastrepta orcadensis
Anastrepta orcadensis also known as Orkney Notchwort is a liverwort found in the United States, Canada, and widely in Europe.Its existence was first discovered on Ward Hill, on the island of Hoy, Orkney, Scotland by Hooker in 1808...

, a liverwort
The Marchantiophyta are a division of bryophyte plants commonly referred to as hepatics or liverworts. Like other bryophytes, they have a gametophyte-dominant life cycle, in which cells of the plant carry only a single set of genetic information....

 also known as Orkney Notchwort, was first discovered on Ward Hill
Ward Hill, Hoy
Ward Hill, on the island of Hoy, is the highest hill in Orkney, Scotland. It lies at the north of the island, between Moaness and Rackwick.The hill forms a curved ridge, reminiscent of a 'J' in shape. The lower slopes are covered in heather and grass, though the top of the ridge is covered in small...

 by William Jackson Hooker
William Jackson Hooker
Sir William Jackson Hooker, FRS was an English systematic botanist and organiser. He held the post of Regius Professor of Botany at Glasgow University, and was the first Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He enjoyed the friendship and support of Sir Joseph Banks for his exploring,...

 in 1808.

In pop culture

Hoy is featured prominently in the 1984 video for "Here Comes The Rain Again
Here Comes the Rain Again
"Here Comes the Rain Again" is a song by British pop duo Eurythmics. It was written by group members Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart and produced by Stewart. The song was released as the third single in the UK from the album Touch and in the United States as the first single. It became...

" by Eurythmics
Eurythmics were a British pop rock duo, formed in 1980, currently disbanded, but known to reunite from time to time. Consisting of members Annie Lennox and David A...


External links

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