The Mill of Eyrland was built in 1861-2 by the Balfour Estate, on a site where a mill had stood since the 1500’s. The Balfours were known throughout Orkney as large landowners, and the mill was built to service their tenant farmers of the parish of Stenness and surrounding area. However, smaller landowners in the area, even as far afield as the islands of Hoy and Graemsay, would also bring their crops to be milled.
The mill worked for just over a century, housing and employing four millers over that time. The main crop milled here was bere, a primitive form of barley. Bere-meal bannocks are still enjoyed in many Orkney homes today.
The first miller was called James Dallas. He wrote on a piece of wood, “James Dallas Miller, December 1st 1862 from the mills of Arbuthnott, Kincardineshire”. Unfortunately we do not have a picture of James.
The second miller, appropriately named Alexander Miller from Caithness, and his wife Ann, from Wyre in Orkney, only worked and lived in the mill from 1901-1910.
He was followed by the well-known Thomas Muir from the parish of Stenness, his descendants still own and work a neighbouring farm in Stenness.
The last miller was James Linklater, better known as “Jimmick”, who worked here until he retired in the mid 1960s, when the mill ceased to operate.
The mill then fell into disrepair until Ian and Margo Heddle bought the building. Over a period of twenty years they lovingly and sensitively restored the workings, which are intact, and the living quarters. Their work won an award for the sympathetic conversion.
We bought the mill from Mr Heddle in 1995, and have given careful consideration to the additional work undertaken. We feel we have not only bought a home to share and enjoy with our guests, but we have received the baton of responsibility to ensure the continued preservation of the building.