Medieval

Sssh, don’t tell – Flotta is our secret!

Detail of the exquisite carved cross decoration on the Flotta Stone Pictish altar front.
Flotta: A hidden gem among the Orkney Islands! Coming to Orkney on holiday and want to go island hopping, but not quite sure which island to go to? Here's somewhere out of the ordinary: Try Flotta! It is a seriously underrated Orkney island, but has a lot to offer. Many people wouldn't think of going [...]Read more of Sssh, don’t tell – Flotta is our secret!...

New: St Magnus Orkney RUBY chocolate

St Magnus Orkney ruby chocolate is edible archaeology, and takes its design from the magnificent Norse 12th century cathedral, St Magnus in Kirkwall, Orkney Islands.
"St Magnus Orkney" is the new chocolate in our edible archaeology product selection. It takes its beautiful design from a consecration cross carved into the old red sandstone of the magnificent 12th century Norse cathedral, St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, Orkney. The original carving is to be found on the wall above where the shrine [...]Read more of New: St Magnus Orkney RUBY chocolate...

Archaeology in Orkney: What should I see? Handy map and bucket list

Looking into Skara Brae house 1, Skaill, Orkney
Are you coming to Orkney? Are you keen to see archaeology? Orkney is fantastic for archaeology! It's difficult to choose what to see or where to go. Therefore, I have helped you out with this handy map (link at the bottom). I would be happy to guide you, or you can visit on your own. [...]Read more of Archaeology in Orkney: What should I see? Handy map and bucket list...

When walls talk: The medieval and post-medieval graffiti of Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim, Norway

Helmet and heraldic shield, believed to be that of Karl Knutsson Bonde.
Introduction to Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim and its relationship with St Magnus Cathedral, Orkney Transcript of a public talk given to Orkney Archaeology Society, 27th November 2018. By Dr Ragnhild Ljosland Graffiti is so exciting because the walls talk to us, and by looking for and recording the graffiti, we are finally listening to them! Nidaros [...]Read more of When walls talk: The medieval and post-medieval graffiti of Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim, Norway...

Why did Lifolf the cook cry?

Martyrdom of St Magnus, re-enacted, April 2017, Egilsay, Orkney, for Magnus 900.
Martyrdom of St Magnus, re-enacted, April 2017, Egilsay, Orkney, for Magnus 900. Saint Magnus church, Birsay Why did Lifolf the earl's cook cry? Male tears and changing masculine ideals in Orkneyinga Saga. Big Viking boys don't cry In saga literature, real men don't cry. Not even as they are being assassinated, or their entire family [...]Read more of Why did Lifolf the cook cry?...

Layers of sand, layers of history

Lines in sandstone caused by natural weathering. Despite the visual similarity they are not runes.
Lines in sandstone caused by natural weathering. Despite the visual similarity they are not runes. Reverse side of stone. Lines in sandstone caused by natural weathering. Despite the visual similarity they are not runes. Beach combing in Burray Burray is an exciting place for beach combers: Along a wide, beautifully arched bay, the layers of [...]Read more of Layers of sand, layers of history...

A pilgrimage in sleet

St Magnus Way: Across the Orphir hills in sleet and snow, December 2017. The sun glowing golden on the horizon over Scapa Flow between sleety showers.
St Magnus Way: Across the Orphir hills in sleet and snow, December 2017. The sun glowing golden on the horizon over Scapa Flow between sleety showers. The Round Kirk, Orphir. 12th Century. Believed to have been commissioned by Earl Hakon Palsson, killer of St Magnus, after a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Firth and Orphir on a [...]Read more of A pilgrimage in sleet...

Chocolate archaeology for Christmas

Brodgar Archaeological Chocolate is now in William Shearer's very special Christmas shop, Kirkwall.
Brodgar Archaeological Chocolate at Kirkness and Gorie, Kirkwall. Christmas at Kirkness & Gorie Kirkness and Gorie is a very old family run shop in Kirkwall, specialising in good wine, good cheese and good food, and therefore the ideal place to find Christmas gifts. Ingrid and Duncan, the owners, have supported Brodgar Archaeological Chocolate from the [...]Read more of Chocolate archaeology for Christmas...

Pilgrimage on St Magnus Way

Ragnhild Ljosland Orkney Tourist Guide
On the St Magnus Way pilgrimage route, Orkney, with tourist guide Dr Ragnhild Ljosland. An Orkney pilgrimage on St Magnus Way On the 16th of April 2017, to the day 900 years after the martyrdom of St Magnus, the pilgrimage route opened, which traces the route of his relics. It is a 55 mile walk [...]Read more of Pilgrimage on St Magnus Way...

We found a stone dish on the beach today

The Round Kirk, Orphir. 12th Century. Believed to have been commissioned by Earl Hakon Palsson, killer of St Magnus, after a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

Today was the first day you could really feel the sun warming your face again, so it seems we are now through the deepest of winter. Chris and I took our boys to the beach below The Bu in Orphir today — the site of Earl Hakon Palsson’s round church and formerly also a Viking […]

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Digging for Kirkwall Castle

There’s a very exciting project going on in Kirkwall at the moment: The great garden dig, led by archaeologist Dan Lee. Being a community project, everyone is welcome to dig, so we did — including the children. The digging happens in volunteer gardens along what was once Kirkwall’s shoreline. We had a go at digging […]

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The Hogboon of Helliehow

On impulse, we took the ferry out to Sanday, but quickly discovered that 24 hours was nowhere near enough time to explore everything we wanted to see there. One thing I wanted to explore in particular, was Helliehow up in the north end of Sanday. I have been into mound folklore lately, especially those stories […]

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Medieval castle with connections to Saint Magnus – and a sea monster!

29th December 2015 Sandwiched between two stormy nights with gale force 80 mph at its fiercest, we were given a beautiful golden day basking in ten degrees and low sunshine. We decided on Holm in the East Mainland – the parish which is spelled “Holm” but pronounced as “ham” because it comes from the Old […]

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Castle of Weems at Sandwick in South Ronaldsay

I often find myself attracted by place-names. The “Castle of Weems” – Is it a castle? ‘Castle’ can mean so many things, from a natural sea stack to a broch mound to the remains of a medieval fortified structure. And “Weems” is a Gaelic place-name, which is unusual in Orkney, meaning an underground built structure […]

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The un-built cathedral

17 Jan 2016 — On a still and frosty Sunday morning, I visit the unbuilt cathedral. This is a sandstone quarry, about an hour’s walk out of Kirkwall. It is beautifully situated on a point, with the calm sea as its backdrop, and you can only reach it on foot or a sturdy bike, as […]

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A green spindle whorl from Harray

Christopher was out fieldwalking today, seeking out landowners to ask permission to use their fields for the new community fieldwalking project that he’s involved in. Fieldwalking is a nice way of screening large areas of land for potential new sites, and here in Orkney you often come across scatterings of flint and other archaeology in […]

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