Scotland ~ Kirkwall, Orkney Islands

Saturday July 5th ~ Orkney Islands

Most of the homes are built out of stone

Most of the homes are built out of stone

There are 70 islands in the Orkney Islands chain, 20 of which are inhabited. With a population of 8,686 people, Kirkwall is the capital of the archipelago in Northern Scotland. The islands are believed to have been inhabited for at least 8,500 years! Orkney was a Norse Viking settlement until it became part of Scotland.

The islands are low-lying and have few trees

Our ship anchored in the harbor as two other good-sized ships were already docked. It took about 10 minutes via tender to get to the dock located right on the edge of town. Within a few minutes, we doubled the number of inhabitants. It reminded me of rats running off of the old ships and invading an otherwise peaceful village.

The town getting over-run by tourists off of three large ships

The town getting over-run by tourists off of three large ships

There was not a lot to see right in the town itself, but we entertained ourselves by checking out the old cemetery, St Magnus Cathedral, Earl’s Palace and Bishop’s Palace.

St Magnus Cathedral – “The Light in the North”

St Magnus Cathedral

St Magnus Cathedral

The cathedral was founded way back in 1137 by Earl Rognvald-Kali, the nephew of the martyred Earl Magnus. But who was St Magnus?

Earl Magnus inherited the land of Orkney jointly with his cousin, Earl Haakon Paulson. The cousins did not see eye-to-eye and arrangements were made to meet just north of Kirkwall to negotiate a peace agreement. Haakon broke the agreement, captured Magnus and ordered his cook to kill him. With one blow of an axe to the head, the deed was done.

Stories and legends grew that Magnus sacrificed himself for peace in the islands. Miracles and healings began to be attributed to him. Years later, the nephew of Magnus (Earl Rognvald-Kali) won the Earldom of Orkney from the son of Haakon in the 1120’s after seeking the divine help of his martyred uncle. Rognvald-Kali built this great stone church in memory of his uncle. Both Magnus and Rognvald were made saints, and their remains lie within the stonework of the Cathedral.

Inside St Magnus Cathedral

Inside St Magnus Cathedral

I was equally interested in the surrounding cemetery as it provided me with several great photo settings.

Bishop’s Palace

Bishop's Palace

Bishop’s Palace

Built as the same time as St Magnus Cathedral, it housed the first Bishop of Kirkwall.

Earl’s Palace

Earl's Palace

Earl’s Palace

The Earl’s Palace is located right next to the Cathedral and was owned by one of the most evil noblemen in Scotland’s history, Lord Orkney.

“The Earl’s Palace was built after Lord Orkney decided that the accommodation provided by the Bishop’s Palace was inadequate for his needs. He decided to extend the complex by building a new Earl’s 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 current owner, trying him and having him executed.” ~ Wikipedia

Lord Orkney and his son did not own the palace for long, as they too were later executed and the palace fell into disrepair.

While waiting at the pier to board our tender back to the mother ship, Tim snapped this picture of a still seaworthy fishing boat.

A still sea-worthy fishing boat

A still sea-worthy fishing boat

When we returned to our cabin we found that Gus had been busy indeed.  Meet your newest NASA astronaut about to blast off in the direction of Jupiter:

And later in the evening…

Gus and his bulldog buddy

Gus and his bulldog buddy

Gratitude Moment:  Today I am grateful for recycling.  Being able to repurpose items, reuse items, or turn them into something entirely fresh and new is a step in the right direction.  Our planet is fast becoming polluted with our cast offs.  Thank you to those that routinely recycle your trash.

About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our latest adventure. We hope you will join us!
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1 Response to Scotland ~ Kirkwall, Orkney Islands

  1. Carrie Bland Miller says:

    verrrrrry interesting……:) thanks!!


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