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!