Barrel of butter

For the literal meaning, see barrel (unit) and butter.

The Barrel of Butter is a rock in the Orkney Islands

Coordinates: 58°53′26″N 3°07′34″W / 58.8905°N 3.126°W / 58.8905; -3.126

Geography and geology

The rock is old red sandstone of the Devonian period. There is no soil of any significance on it.[1]

Located in Scapa Flow, between Mainland and Cava, it has a section permanently above sea level. It is to the north east of Cava, and south of Orphir. It is also north of Flotta.


The rock gained its strange name, not from its shape, or position, as is often the case, but from the annual rent paid on it, by the residents of Orphir. In return for a barrel of butter per year, they gained permission from the local laird to hunt the seals on it.[1]

On 21 June 1919, the waters between the Barrel of Butter and Cava became full of scuttled German ships, including the SMS Bayern, Markgraf, Cöln, Dresden and König. Some of these are still popular with divers.[1]

See also


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