North Walls and Brims

Where are they?

North Walls and Brims are on the island of Hoy, Orkney, with Scapa Flow on one side and the Pentland Firth on the other. They are part of the parish of Walls and Flotta, which also includes South Walls, linked to North Walls and Brims by the Ayre, and four other islands.  North and South Walls are sometimes referred to as Longhope though it is really the large bay which separates the two. This 1904 map showing parishes should make things clearer. The parish of Walls and Flotta is coloured yellow.

You may have heard of: Lyness, a key naval base in two World Wars; Melsetter House, formerly the home of the local laird; the Longhope Lifeboat whose crew were tragically lost on a rescue in 1969.

Why this site?

It all started with a project I did as part of my postgraduate genealogy course at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. Picture of North Walls

Knowing our ancestors’ dates is one thing, finding out about their lives and the communities in which they lived puts flesh on those bones. At the start I wanted to know how typical my ancestors were of the people in their area. My late father came from Crockness in North Walls and he had a deep love for and knowledge of the place so it’s also a tribute to him. It’s an ongoing project, like most of genealogy, so do bookmark this page.  If you are interested in South Walls particularly, some of the information here will be relevant or I can do research for you.

Natives or incomers?

A closer look at who lived in North Walls and Brims in the 1861 census


In 1888 many Orkney crofters applied to the very new Crofters’ Commission for rent reductions. Their evidence and the decisions made are found in WR Mackintosh’s The Orkney Crofters, now out of print. Here is a transcription of the North Walls and Brims pages (pdf). The descriptions of the work the crofters and forebears had done to improve their land, rising rents and other comments, make this a fascinating piece of social history, whether or not your ancestors are directly mentioned.

 Check my links to other sites relevant to families from Walls and Brims.