One of the last completely water-run mills in Scotland – and the most northerly working mill in the UK – Barony Mill was built on this site in 1873 and has changed little since. Like most northern mills of this period, a kiln for drying the grain is integral within the building. Unusually however, the grain ground here is bere, an ancient form of barley which is tolerant of Orkney’s cool temperatures and short growing season. The mill grinds flour for farms as far afield as Thurso, and in-depth tours are available during the summer free of charge (donations welcome). The running of the machinery is demonstrated by miller Rae Phillips, whose father and grandfather were millers here decades ago. Phillips himself worked at the mill from 1957 to 1963 and has returned to be the miller for the Birsay Heritage Trust, which has operated the Mill since the last miller left in 1998. Beremeal is available to buy in 1.5kg bags, and they also supply bakeries and restaurants around the islands to be converted into the likes of bannocks, oatcakes and shortbread. Rae’s wife Margaret has produced a book of beremeal recipes which is also available to purchase at the mill.
The present mill was built in 1873, and has changed little since. Like most northern mills of this period, a kiln for drying the grain is integral with the building. Unusually however, the grain ground here is bere (known as corn on Orkney), an ancient form of barley which is tolerant of the cool temperatures and short growing season of Orkney. Grinding is done in the winter; during summer (May–September), the Mill is open to the public and the running of the machinery is demonstrated by the miller. Meal is available for sale for home use, for commercial bakers, restaurants, brewers, distillers and health food shops.