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Tormiston Mill was built in 1884–5 by Colonel Balfour of Shapinsay to serve the local tenant farmers. It produced mostly animal feed, and was typical of the larger meal mills built in Orkney and Caithness in the late-Victorian period.
The machinery was cast at the foundry in Thurso, in Caithness. The large rectangular building is three storeys high and housed a twin-vented drying kiln as well as the mill machinery. Its large, cast-iron overshot waterwheel powered three pairs of grinding stones.
The mill was derelict by 1965. It was converted into a restaurant and shop in 1972, and currently serves as Historic Scotland’s visitor centre for nearby Maeshowe, the monumental Neolithic chambered tomb.
The mill’s size – a prominent landmark amid the flat landscape