on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

The Orkney Islands, a First Visit

Peter Roworth

Peter Roworth

Peter Roworth

My photography is project-driven and is now mostly digital, but I still dabble in film, using a Hasselblad Xpan ll. I like to think 'outside the box' so the subject of the photographs in this portfolio is not immediately obvious; I leave the viewer to look into each image and let their imagination wander.

Peter Roworth 4x4

My wife and I had our first visit to the Orkney Islands in July 2023, basing ourselves on the Mainland and the islands linked to it by causeways. The first impression was how green the island was, with lush pastures for cattle, fields cut for silage, and growing crops of barley and oats. This gently undulating landscape is almost treeless, and the fields are bounded by stock-proof fencing and a few stone walls. There are many lochs and the low-lying marshes are dominated by yellow flag and meadowsweet, while the upland areas are heather moorland with evidence of long-abandoned peat cuttings.

Orkney is rich in archaeology, and the stunning sites of Maes Howe, Skara Brae, the Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar have been recognised as The Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site. But at the other end of man’s long occupation of the islands, I was struck by the many defensive infrastructures associated with the use of Scapa Flow as the base for the country’s naval fleet during both World Wars.

Photographically I had no pre-conceived ideas of what to expect and I did not treat the holiday like a full photographic visit. Rather I looked for images that reflected my interpretation of what makes Orkney such a unique and special place.

A Farming Landscape.dscf4880a

A farming landscape

The Ring Of Brodgar.dscf4895a

The Ring of Brodgar, one of the key sites in Orkney’s Neolithic ceremonial landscape

Abandoned Gun Emplacements.dscf4932a

Abandoned gun emplacements, part of the Hoxa Head defences, overlooking the approaches to Scapa Flow.

Churchill Barrier.dscf4970a

One of the Churchill barriers was constructed in the 1940s as a blockade to prevent enemy ships from entering Scapa Flow.

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