Papa Westray also known as Papay, is one of the Orkney Islands in Scotland, with a population of 65 at the time of the 2001 Census, now increased to 70 people. The soil is very fertile, and this has long been a draw to the island.
It is the tenth largest of the Orkneys with an area of 3½ square miles.
According to tradition, in the 8th century, the Pictish King Nechtan attempted to seduce a young woman from the island named Triduana, who in response gouged her own eyes out. She later became abbess of a nunnery at Restalrig, now part of Edinburgh, and was in due course, canonised as Saint Tredwell. A chapel was consecrated to her on Papa Westray and became a place of pilgrimage for people with eye complaints.
The island is one of the "Papey"s or "islands of the papar. Joseph Anderson noted that:
Also on the island is the 12th century parish church of St Boniface Kirk (recently restored; open in summer) with a carved Norse "hogback" gravestone (probably also 12th century) in the churchyard. This stands on a substantial and largely unexcavated 9th century, or earlier, Pictish religious site – possibly including a bishop's residence. Remains of a heavily eroded broch can be seen on the shore. Early Christian carved stones found at this site are on display in Tankerness House Museum, Kirkwall and the Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh.
Another ancient monument that can be visited is a well-preserved Neolithic chambered cairn on the small island of Holm of Papa Westray, a little east of Papay itself (and readily visible from the larger island). The long, stalled cairn, built of local stone, was once a communal burial place for the bones of an ancient community. It is protected by a modern roof and entered by a man-hole from above. This can be seen at any time of day, but visitors must arrange privately for a boat through the local Co-Op.
Papa Westray is the birthplace of the Orcadian educator and man of letters, John D. Mackay.