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The Hall of Clestrain, birthplace of John Rae
Grid reference: HY345055
Location: 58°55’54"N, 3°8’22"W

Orphir is a parish and village on Mainland, the largest island of Orkney. It is along the south coast of the island, approximately nine miles southwest of Kirkwall, and the parish comprehends a seaboard tract of about 7 by 3½ miles, and includes Cava and the Holm of Houton. The coast includes Houton Head, about a hundred yards, but all elsewhere is nearly level; and the interior is an assemblage of vales and hills, the latter culminating at about 700 feet above sea level, and commanding fine views.

The name of the parish is found in Old Norse as Jorfjara or Orfjara.[1][2][3]

A chief residence in the parish was the Hall of Clestrain, now derelict. Antiquities found here include the ruins of Earl Paul's Palace, the remains of pre-Reformation chapels, and several tumuli.

John Rae (30 September 1813 – 22 July 1893), the explorer of the North American Arctic and discoverer of the Northwest Passage, was born at the Hall of Clestrain in Orphir.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Orphir)


  1. Anderson, Joseph (ed.) (1873) The Orkneyinga Saga. Translated by Jón A. Hjaltalin & Gilbert Goudie. Edinburgh. Edmonston and Douglas. The Internet Archive. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
  2. Pedersen, Roy (January 1992) Orkneyjar ok Katanes (map, Inverness, Nevis Print)
  3. Haswell-Smith, Hamish (2004). The Scottish Islands. Edinburgh: Canongate. ISBN 1841954543. 
  • Wilson, Rev. John The Gazetteer of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1882)