St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall dominates the skyline of Kirkwall, the main town of Orkney, a group of islands off the north coast of mainland Scotland. It is the most northerly cathedral in the United Kingdom, a fine example of Romanesque architecture built for the bishops of Orkney when the islands were ruled by the Norse Earls of Orkney. It is owned not by the church, but by the burgh of Kirkwall as a result of an act of King James III of Scotland following Orkney's annexation by the Scottish Crown in 1468. It has its own dungeon.

Construction began in 1137, and it was added to over the next 300 years. The first bishop was William the Old, and the diocese was under the authority of the Archbishop of Nidaros in Norway. It was for Bishop William that the nearby Bishop's Palace was built. Before the Reformation, the cathedral was presided over by the Bishop of Orkney, whose seat was in Kirkwall.

 

Article Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Magnus_Cathedral

Image SourceRobert Scarth - St Magnus Cathedral

Skara Brae is a stone-built Neolithic settlement, located on the Bay of Skaill on the west coast of Mainland, the largest island in the Orkney archipelago of Scotland. Consisting of eight clustered houses, it was occupied from roughly 3180 BC to about 2500 BC and is Europe's most complete Neolithic village. Skara Brae gained UNESCO World Heritage Site status as one of four sites making up "The Heart of Neolithic Orkney". Older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids, it has been called the "Scottish Pompeii" because of its excellent preservation

 

Article Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skara_Brae

Image Source: Wknight94 - Own work

The Ring of Brodgar is a Neolithic henge and stone circle in Orkney, Scotland. Most henges do not contain stone circles; Brodgar is a striking exception, ranking with Avebury (and to a lesser extent Stonehenge) among the greatest of such sites. The ring of stones stands on a small isthmus between the Lochs of Stenness and Harray. Unlike similar structures such as Avebury, there are no obvious stones inside the circle, but since the interior of the circle has never been excavated by archaeologists, the possibility remains that wooden structures, for example, may have been present. The site has resisted attempts at scientific dating and the monument's age remains uncertain. It is generally thought to have been erected between 2500 BC and 2000 BC, and was, therefore, the last of the great Neolithic monuments built on the Ness. A project called The Ring of Brodgar Excavation 2008 was undertaken in the summer of that year in an attempt to settle the age issue and help answer other questions about a site that remains relatively poorly understood. The results of the excavation are still preliminary.

 

Article Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_of_Brodgar

Image Source:Otter at nl.wikipedia

Maeshowe is one of the largest tombs in Orkney; the mound encasing the tomb is 115 feet (35 m) in diameter and rises to a height of 24 feet (7.3 m). Surrounding the mound, at a distance of 50 feet (15 m) to 70 feet (21 m) is a ditch up to 45 feet (14 m) wide. The grass mound hides a complex of passages and chambers built of carefully crafted slabs of flagstone weighing up to 30 tons. It is aligned so that the rear wall of its central chamber held up by a bracketed wall, is illuminated on the winter solstice. A similar display occurs in Newgrange. This entrance passage is 36 feet (11 m) long and leads to the central almost square chamber measuring about 15 feet (4.6 m) on each side. The original roof may have risen to a height of 15 feet (4.6 m) or more. The entrance passage is only about 3 feet (0.91 m) high, requiring visitors to stoop or crawl into the central chamber. That chamber is constructed largely of flat slabs of stone, many of which traverse nearly the entire length of the walls. In each corner lie huge angled buttresses that rise to the vaulting.

 

Article Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maeshowe

Image Source: Krage52 - Own work

The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village on the northeast coast of Mainland Orkney in Scotland overlooking Eynhallow Sound, about 15 miles north-west of Kirkwall. It once housed a substantial community.

Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it (resembling the set-up at Mine Howe). It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

 

Article Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broch_of_Gurness

Image Source: Shadowgate - Broch of Gurness 09

The Pier Arts Centre is an art gallery and museum in Stromness, Orkney, Scotland. It was established in 1979 to provide a home for an important collection of fine art donated to "be held in trust for Orkney" by the author, peace activist and philanthropist Margaret Gardiner (1904–2005). Alongside the permanent collection the Centre curates a year-round programme of changing exhibitions and events for the education and enjoyment of the general public. Admission is free.

The buildings occupied by The Pier Arts Centre are firmly rooted in the history of Orkney. The house fronting the street was built in the 18th century, and during much of the 19th century was occupied by Edward Clouston, a prosperous merchant and Agent of the Hudson's Bay Company. On the pier behind the house Clouston erected stores and offices. On the first floor of his house, he had a finely panelled drawing room, furnished with books, family portraits and a pianoforte.

 

Article Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pier_Arts_Centre

Image Source: John Ireland -  geograph.org.uk

The Italian Chapel is a highly ornate Catholic chapel on Lamb Holm in the Orkney Islands. It was built during World War II by Italian prisoners of war, who were housed on the previously uninhabited island while they constructed the Churchill Barriers to the east of Scapa Flow. Only the concrete foundations of the other buildings of the prisoner-of-war camp survive. The chapel was not completed until after the end of the war, and was restored in the 1960s and again in the 1990s. It is a popular tourist attraction, and a category A listed building.

It is in the Roman Catholic Parish of Our Lady & St Joseph in Orkney, part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Aberdeen. Mass is held in the chapel on the first Sunday of the summer months (April–September). 550 Italian prisoners of war, captured in North Africa during World War II, were brought to Orkney in 1942.

 

Article Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_Chapel

Image Source: Renata at English Wikipedia

The Tomb of the Eagles, or Isbister Chambered Cairn, is a Neolithic chambered tomb located on a cliff edge at Isbister on South Ronaldsay in Orkney, Scotland. First explored by Ronald Simison, a farmer, when digging flagstones in 1958, he conducted his own excavations at the site in 1976. Alerted by Simison, archaeologist John Hedges then mounted a full study, prepared a technical report and wrote a popular book that cemented the tomb's name.16,000 human bones were found at the site, as well as 725 from birds. These were identified as predominantly belonging to the white-tailed sea eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) and represented between 8 and 20 individuals. These were originally interpreted as a foundation deposit; however, this interpretation has been challenged by new dating techniques. These reveal that the eagles died c. 2450–2050 BCE, up to 1,000 years after the building of the tomb. This confirms growing evidence from other sites that the neolithic tombs of Orkney remained in use for many generations.

 

Article Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomb_of_the_Eagles

Image Source: Nachosan - Own work

The Old Man of Hoy is a 449-foot (137m) sea stack on Hoy, part of the Orkney archipelago off the north coast of Scotland. Formed from Old Red Sandstone, it is one of the tallest stacks in the United Kingdom. The Old Man is popular with climbers, and was first climbed in 1966. Created by the erosion of a cliff through hydraulic action some time after 1750, the stack is no more than a few hundred years old, but may soon collapse into the sea.

The Old Man stands close to Rackwick Bay on the west coast of Hoy, in Orkney, Scotland, and can be seen from the Scrabster to Stromness ferry. From certain angles it is said to resemble a human figure.

 

Article Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Man_of_Hoy

Image Source: Grinner at the English language Wikipedia

The Earl's Palace is a ruined Renaissance-style palace near St Magnus's Cathedral in the centre of Kirkwall, Orkney, Scotland. Built by Patrick, Earl of Orkney, its construction began in 1607 and was largely undertaken via forced labour. Today, the ruins are open to the public. The palace was built after Patrick, Earl of Orkney, decided that the accommodation provided by the Bishop's Palace was inadequate for his needs. Earl Patrick is widely acknowledged to have been one of the most tyrannical noblemen in Scotland's history. He decided to extend the complex by building a new palace on the adjoining land. This was complicated by the fact he did not actually own this property. He quickly acquired it by fabricating charges of theft against the unfortunate owner, trying him and having him executed. Upon his imprisonment at Edinburgh in 1609, his bastard son Robert began a rebellion on his behalf and seized the palace, along with nearby St Magnus's Cathedral and Kirkwall Castle. An army led by the Earl of Caithness laid siege, and the Castle was destroyed. Earl Patrick and his son were later executed for treason.

 

Article Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earl%27s_Palace,_Kirkwall

Image Source: Wikibofh~commonswiki

In Birsay, the Orkney Mainland’s north-westmost parish, there sits a memorial, inscribed:

"This tower was raised by the people of Orkney in memory of Field Marshal Earl Kitchener of Khartoum on that corner of his country which he had served so faithfully nearest to the place where he died on duty. He and his staff perished along with the officers and nearly all the men of HMS Hampshire on 5 June 1916."

What is not told by this simple and evocative structure is that only 12 men survived the sinking and some 736 other men lost their lives in terrible conditions along with Lord Kitchener, meaning a total loss of life of 737 souls. Orkney Heritage Society has changed this to better remember those who died. We restored the Kitchener Memorial to its original condition, and built an arc-shaped HMS Hampshire commemorative wall alongside. The wall is of local stone, inlaid with granite on which the names of all 737 men lost are engraved.

 

Article Source: http://www.orkneycommunities.co.uk/ohs/index.asp?pageid=592610

Image Source: Gill Stott - geograph.org.uk

The Brough of Birsay is an uninhabited tidal island off the north-west coast of The Mainland of Orkney, Scotland, in the parish of Birsay. It is located around 13 miles north of Stromness and features the remains of Pictish and Norse settlements as well as a modern light house.

The island is accessible on foot at low tide via a largely natural causeway. It is separated from the mainland by a 240-metre (790-foot) stretch of water at high tide: the Sound of Birsay.

The Norse settlement has been partly removed by coastal erosion, and the cliffs are reinforced by concrete rip-rap to prevent further damage.

 

Article Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brough_of_Birsay

Image Source: Chmee2 - Own work

The Knap of Howar on the island of Papa Westray in Orkney, Scotland is a Neolithic farmstead which may be the oldest preserved stone house in northern Europe. Radiocarbon dating shows that it was occupied from 3700 BC to 2800 BC, earlier than the similar houses in the settlement at Skara Brae on the Orkney Mainland. The farmstead consists of two adjacent rounded rectangular thick-walled buildings with very low doorways facing the sea. The larger and older structure is linked by a low passageway to the other building, which has been interpreted as a workshop or a second house. They were constructed on an earlier midden, and were surrounded by midden material which has protected them. There are no windows; the structures were presumably lit by fire, with a hole in the roof to let out smoke. Though they now stand close to the shore, they would have originally lain inland. The shore shows how the local stone splits into thin slabs, giving a ready source of construction material.

 

Article Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knap_of_Howar

Image Source: Mark Longair - https://www.flickr.com/photos/mhl20/14142573879/in/photostream/

Noltland Castle is located near Pierowall on the island of Westray in the Orkney Islands of Scotland. It dates mainly to the later 16th century, although it was never fully completed. The castle is protected as a scheduled monument. In 1560, Adam Bothwell, Bishop of Orkney, granted the lands of Noltland to his brother-in-law Gilbert Balfour, who built the castle. Balfour was Master of the Royal Household to Mary, Queen of Scots, and was involved in the plot to kill her husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. After Mary's deposition and exile, he continued to support the queen. Noltland was seized by Robert Stewart, 1st Earl of Orkney, an opponent of Mary's supporters, but he was forced to hand it back to Balfour in the early 1570s. Balfour died in Sweden in 1567, and, in 1598, the castle was again seized by the Earl of Orkney (now Patrick Stewart, son of Robert). By 1606, the castle had been restored to the Balfours once more, when it was sold to Sir John Arnot, Lord Provost of Edinburgh, who later became Sheriff of Orkney

 

Article Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noltland_Castle

Image Source: Dumgoyach - geograph.org.uk

Sanday is one of the inhabited islands of Orkney that lies off the north coast of mainland Scotland. With an area of 50.43 square kilometres (19.5 sq mi), it is the third largest of the Orkney Islands. The main centres of population are Lady Village and Kettletoft. Sanday can be reached by Orkney Ferries or by plane from Kirkwall on the Orkney Mainland.

The Picts were the pre-Norse inhabitants of Sanday but very few placenames remain from this period. The Norse named the island Sandey or Sand-øy because of the predominance of sandy beaches and this became "Sanday" during the Scots and English speaking periods. The similarly named Sandoy is in the Faroe Islands.

 

Article Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanday,_Orkney

Image Source: Dr Julian Paren - geograph.org.uk