There is a Neolithicchambered cairn in the southwest overlooking Calf Sound, which separates the island from Eday. Rectangular in shape, the cairn was excavated in 1936–37 and contains a small chamber with two compartments and a larger one with four stalls that has a separate entrance and was probably added at a later date. Two similar structures have been identified nearby along with various other ancient ruins.
From the 17th to the 19th centuries, the Calf of Eday was home to a salt works, the remains of which can still be seen to the north of cairns.
The pirate John Gow and his men successfully raided the Hall of Clestrain on 10 February 1725, but when they attempted to attack Carrick House on Eday, they ran aground on the Calf of Eday, where they were captured.
The dominant vegetation on the island is dry dwarf-shrub heath dominated by Heather (Calluna vulgaris), with smaller areas of wet heath, semi-improved grassland and coastal grassland. The Calf of Eday supports 32 species of breeding birds and is designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA) for its importance as a nesting area. Gulls and Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) nest in the dry heath and grassland areas, whilst Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis), Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla) and auks nest on the cliffs.
Irvine, James M. (ed.) (2006) The Orkneys and Schetland in Blaeu's Atlas Novus of 1654. Ashtead. James M. Irvine. ISBN 0-9544571-2-9
Noble, Gordon (2006) Neolithic Scotland: Timber, Stone, Earth and Fire. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 0-7486-2338-8
Waugh, Doreen, "On eið-names in Orkney and other North Atlantic islands" in Sheehan, John and Ó Corráin, Donnchadh (2010) The Viking Age: Ireland and the West. Proceedings of the Fifteenth Viking Congress. Dublin. Four Courts Press. ISBN 978-1-84682-101-1