Orphir round kirk #Orkney #Scotland

Orphir is a region of Mainland Orkney where once again we were immersed in history, this time 11th/12th century, and back to the murder of St. Magnus

First, we visited the Orkneyinga Saga Centre to view documents and a fantastic audio-visual display about the saga, which tells the extensive history of the jarls (earls) of Orkney.

From Wikipedia: “The Orkneyinga saga (also called the History of the Earls of Orkney and Jarls’ Saga) is a historical narrative of the history of the Orkney and Shetland islands and their relationship with other local polities, particularly Norway and Scotland. The saga has “no parallel in the social and literary record of Scotland” and is “the only medieval chronicle to have Orkney as the central place of action””

Behind the centre we found these ruins, once again in amazing condition, considering their age.

Beyond the hall lies the main draw of Orphir: the remains of the Orphir Round Kirk (Church). Again, from Wikipiedia: It is thought to have been built by jarl (earl) Haakon Paulsson (earl from 1103 to 1123) as penance for murdering his cousin and co-ruler Magnus Erlendsson (later Saint Magnus) in the late 11th or early 12th century. According to the Orkneyinga Saga, earl Haakon took sole power in 1117 after the killing of Magnus, and the round kirk was later rededicated to St Magnus.

The oldest surviving round church in Scotland, it was inspired by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The remaining footprint shows it consisted of a circular nave of 6m diameter, with a central window and walls one metre thick.

Almost the whole church survived until 1757, when most of it was demolished to provide stone for the new parish kirk, which has also now been demolished. Only the apse and a small segment of the round kirk’s nave wall now survive.

Just a couple more posts left from Orkney – sadly no holiday travel this year, so just as well we saw so very much last trip!


  1. I love the arch around the nave.

    Yikes. Famous for being a murder spot. Be careful, Deborah…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s lovely, isn’t it?
      Orkney has a bit of mileage in terms of murder and death – it was also the site of the first death recorded in WW2.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My Miss Plumtartt and I find WWII endlessly fascinating. Youtube is a treasure trove of historians with fascinating channels. At this time we are following a series titled ‘WWII in Real Time’. It goes through in a chronological week by week format wrapping up what happened that week during the war. It is hosted by a charming fellow named Indy Niedell.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow. It is an endless topic. I’ll be going into it a bit more in one of the posts I still have left from Orkney, as that’s a really important place in war history. I had no idea until I started researching the islands before my trip.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That is beautiful. Just imagining life around those ruins gives me tingles.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a great description for the experience 👍


  4. Wow, such rich history and architecture with the rounded walls, that must have been interesting to build. 🙂 xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lots of turrets in Scottish architecture, perhaps that’s where it began!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Quite possibly! I love it. 😉


  5. I am SO far behind on my blogging, I’ll likely never catch up, but I just had to tell you how stunning these pictures are and how I will LONG for a visit to Scotland until my dying day! *sigh* And it isn’t just the men in kilts I’m longing for either. (NO, really. I mean it. Mostly. Okay, they ARE pretty high up there, but still … there’s more than that type of scenery on my mind, I swear!)

    I’m keeping all of these posts of yours in a folder so I can come back and study them at length. You live in what I suspect would be my favorite country in the world, and I do SO long to visit someday. In the meantime, I want to be able to look at your photos over and over, when the mood strikes. (Like when it’s triple digit temperatures outside and too hot to garden, and a 50′ walk down my drive to the mailbox includes the risk of dropping from heatstroke.)

    I’m SO glad you are settled there now and can enjoy the surroundings as often as you want, even from your own windows. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you my friend, I really hope to welcome you here one day but in the meantime, enjoy the picis – I really enjoy your wildlife pics so it’s mutual.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great read! Always wanted to visit Orkney but I spend most of my time travelling abroad as got all my life to see my home country!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t rely on it! Orkney is well worth the visit.

      Liked by 1 person

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