The Orkney Isles are famous for their long held self-sufficiency ethic. In fact, it's a tradition that dates back to the Neolithic ages and continues to this day. Whether it's the imposing Standing Stones o' Stenness or the historic Neolithic village of Scara Brae, both of which predate the pyramids of Egypt, Orkney boasts extraordinary levels of craftsmanship.
Orkney Cheddar is no different and has a tradition dating back centuries, when crofters' wives would supplement their meagre income by selling excess handmade cheeses.
During the Second World War the islanders were forced to do more than just sell their spare dairy produce, as they were joined by 60,000 servicemen and women and 550 Italian prisoners of war stationed on the Island. The response was simple - the Orkney farmers worked harder than ever and increased their output to meet the demand.
And it's no coincidence that an island famed for its craft and beauty should inspire these POWs to construct the iconic Italian Chapel, giving the War period a lasting legacy of its own.
After the war finished, and with the Chapel completed, the local farmers found themselves with a surplus of dairy produce. They decided to join together to produce a cheese that others on the mainland would learn to appreciate as much as the POWs and the visiting servicemen and women.
Fittingly, the new state of art creamery was build on the site of the former RAF base, just outside Kirkwall, replacing the original factory from 1946. While production methods may have been tweaked to keep up with demand, the factory has remained true to the crafted techniques of its forefathers, who would be proud to see the factory continue to produce award winning cheese for the whole nation and beyond in the 21st Century.
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