Lamb Holm

Lamb Holm is a small uninhabited island in Orkney, Scotland. The Italian Chapel, constructed during the Second World War, is the island's main attraction.

Lamb Holm
Lamb Holm is located in Orkney Islands
Lamb Holm
Lamb Holm
Lamb Holm shown within the Orkney Islands
OS grid referenceHY486003
Coordinates58°53′N 2°53′W / 58.89°N 2.89°W / 58.89; -2.89
Physical geography
Island groupOrkney
Area40 hectares (0.15 sq mi)
Area rank220= [1]
Highest elevation20 metres (66 ft)
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Council areaOrkney Islands

Lamb Holm is classified by the National Records of Scotland as an uninhabited island that "had no usual residents at the time of either the 2001 or 2011 censuses."[4]


Lamb Holm lies in Holm Sound, one of the eastern entrances to Scapa Flow, between Mainland, Orkney and the island of Burray,[5] It is 40 hectares (0.15 sq mi) in area.

The Churchill Barriers carry the road from South Ronaldsay to Mainland, Orkney. Lamb Holm is connected to Glimps Holm, to the southwest, by Barrier number 2, and to Mainland by Barrier number 1.

The quarry used to build the Churchill Barriers has now been flooded and converted into a fish farm.

On the northwest of the island, on the shore of St Mary's Bay, are the remains of a prehistoric settlement which have been designated as a scheduled monument.[6]

Italian ChapelEdit

Built by Italian prisoners of war during World War II, the highly ornamented Italian Chapel is now the island's main attraction. The chapel is a Category A listed building.[7]

In 1942, more than 1300 Italian prisoners of war were captured in North Africa and taken to Orkney, where they remained until early 1945. Of these, 550 were taken to Camp 60, where they were put to work building the Churchill Barriers, four causeways created to block unwanted extra sea accesses to Scapa Flow.

In 1943, Major T. P. Buckland, Camp 60's new commandant, and Father Giacombazzi, the Camp's priest agreed that a place of worship was required. Two Nissen huts were joined together to form a makeshift chapel. The prisoners, under the leadership of prisoner Domenico Chiocchetti, did all of the work to transform a simple corrugated iron structure into a work of beauty. The chapel was lined with plasterwork and an altar was made out of concrete. Chiocchetti painted the sanctuary end of the chapel. The beauty that he created led to the prisoners decorating the entire interior and creating a front façade out of concrete that concealed the shape of the hut and made the building look like a church.

Since the prisoners' departure, several residents of Camp 60, including Chiocchetti, have made return visits to the chapel they created. In 1996 a declaration was jointly signed by officials in Orkney and Chiocchetti's hometown of Moena, reinforcing the ties between the two places. The building has been preserved and is still used as a chapel.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Area and population ranks: there are c. 300 islands over 20 ha in extent and 93 permanently inhabited islands were listed in the 2011 census.
  2. ^ Haswell-Smith, Hamish (2004). The Scottish Islands. Edinburgh: Canongate. ISBN 978-1-84195-454-7.
  3. ^ Ordnance Survey: Landranger map sheet 6 Orkney (Mainland) (Map). Ordnance Survey. 2014. ISBN 9780319228128.
  4. ^ National Records of Scotland (15 August 2013). "Appendix 2: Population and households on Scotland's Inhabited Islands" (PDF). Statistical Bulletin: 2011 Census: First Results on Population and Household Estimates for Scotland Release 1C (Part Two) (PDF) (Report). SG/2013/126. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  5. ^ "Lamb Holm". Gazetteer for Scotland. Retrieved 2009-08-30.
  6. ^ Historic Environment Scotland. "Lamb Holm,settlement 450m WSW of Italian Chapel (SM6246)". Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  7. ^ Historic Environment Scotland. "Lamb Holm, The Italian Chapel, (Roman Catholic), including Statue (LB12728)". Retrieved 7 June 2020.

Coordinates: 58°53′23″N 2°53′24″W / 58.88968°N 2.89005°W / 58.88968; -2.89005