Firth and Stenness


"Firth, a parish in the mainland of Orkney, bounded N by Rendall parish, E by Firth Bay and Kirkwall parish, S by Orphir and Stenness, and W by Harray. It includes the islets of Damsay and Grimbister Holm; contains Finstown village; and is united to Stenness. The united parish of Firth and Stenness, in its SW or Stenness portion, communicates by a bridge with Stromness parish, and is largely bounded by Stenness Loch and Hoy Sound. Its greatest length, from NE to SW, is 8½ miles; and its greatest breadth is 4½ miles. ...

The shores of the united parish are undulating and fertile; but the interior consists largely of moor and hill, covered with heath and peat-moss. Between 1841 and 1879, however, the late Mr Robert Scarth of Binscarth did much in the way of reclaiming, enclosing, draining, liming, and planting-improvements described at length in pp. 48-51 of Trans. Highl. and Ag. Soc. (1874). A lake and a singular Caledonian monument are noticed in our article on Stenness. Two proprietors hold each an annual value of between £100 and £500, 2 of from £50 to £100, and 4 of from £20 to £50. This parish is in the presbytery of Cairston and synod of Orkney; the living is worth £225. There are 2 parish churches, that of Firth built in 1813, and that of Stenness in 1793. There are also a U.P. church of Firth and Free churches of Firth and Stenness; and 2 public schools, Firth and Stenness, with respective accommodation for l60 and 100 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 77 and 62, and grants of £82, 5s. 6d., and £64, 10s. Valuation of Firth and Stenness (1881) £1752, 10s. 10d. Pop. (1801) 1272, (1861) 1493, (1871) 1434, (1881) 1362."

From Francis Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, 1882-4



  • Reminisences of an Orkney Parish: by John Firth. Published by the Orkney Natural History Society. 1920, 1922, 1974.
  • The Kirk and Parish of Stenness: by Peter Leith. Typewritten 1956. 39pp.
    Discusses several local families.
  • An Orkney Parish in 1841: by Gordon Hughes.
    Article published in the Orcadian 4 December 1980.
  • A Short guide to the Stenness Area: by Major James W. Cursiter. Published 1928.

Church Records

Old Parish Registers - Firth

  • Baptisms, 1780-1854. Only one entry May 1782-May 1785. Very incomplete 1787-1817.
  • Marriages, 1817-1854.
  • Burials. No entries.

Old Parish Registers - Stenness

  • Baptisms, 1732-1854. Incomplete throughout, especially 1745-47 and 1750-52, inclusively.
  • Marriages, 1732-1854. No entries 1761-65.
  • Burials, 1746-1854. There are only 31 entries prior to 1818.

Other church records (held at Orkney Archives in Kirkwall).

  • Ref:OCR/KC/11: Firth & Stenness Kirk Baptisms 1890-1945, Proclamations of marriage banns 1919-1945, Proclamations of marriage banns (Stenness) 1943-1977, Communion Roll 1938-1942.
  • Ref: OCR/FC/10: Firth Free Kirk Baptisms 1912-1945, Communion Roll 1881-1902 and 1912-1945, Disjunction certificates 1912-1935.
  • Ref: OCR/FC/29: Stenness Free Kirk Baptisms 1844-1867 and 1919-1933, Communion Roll 1894-1912 and 1921-1938.
  • Ref: OCR/KC/25: Stenness Kirk Communion Roll 1880-1931.
  • Ref: D1/268: Stromness and Stenness Old Parish Registers: Transcription by Margaret Watters of baptisms in Stenness OPRs 1733-1809.

Meg Greenwood's website lists a number of births in Stenness from 1836-1855.


Civil Registration

The Registrar of births, deaths, and marriages for the parishes of Firth and Stenness.
The Registrar's records extend back only as far as 1st January 1855 when registration became compulsory in Scotland.


Description & Travel

You can see pictures of Firth and Stenness which are provided by:





You can see maps centred on OS grid reference HY346133 (Lat/Lon: 59.001423, -3.139627), Firth and Stenness which are provided by: