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Tormiston Mill

An excellent late example of a Scottish watermill

Tormiston Mill

Victorian engineering

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.  

Visitor centre

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


Region – Orkney

About 9m West of Kirkwall on the A965.

Grid reference - HY 322 127.

Tel: 01856 761 606 or 01856 841 815