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Kirkwall War Memorial

As seen from my previous post, Kirkwall’s War Memorial (also dedicated to the parish of St Ola) is located right beside St Magnus Cathedral – which is in the background the first, third and fourth photo here. The Memorial is in the form of an arch which acts as a gateway to the churchyard and cemetery behind. The original pillars are dedicated to the Great War. The external pillars were added to commemorate the Second World War.

Kirkwall War Memorial

Left hand pillars:-

Kirkwall War Memorial

Right hand pillars with wreath. St Magnus Cathedral in background:-

Kirkwall War Memorial

War Memorial Arch. “To the glory of God in memory of the men of Kirkwall and St Ola who fell for freedom in the Great War”:-

Kirkwall War Memorial Arch

St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney (i)

The first day we visited Kirkwall, Orkney’s biggest town, was quite rainy, which was why we chose to go there as we hoped to be able to nip in and out of shops as necessary.

St Magnus Cathedral, Britain’s most northerly, was built in memory of St Magnus and to hold his relics.

It dominates the skyline of Kirkwall and is impressive from close up:-

St Magnus Cathedral

This angle shows Kirkwall’s War Memorial arch to the left:-

St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney

Cathedral from churchyard behind:-

St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, from Churchyard

Cathedral side door:-

St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Side Door

The interior is also impressive, monumental but somehow on a human scale.

Ceiling and window behind altar:-

Ceiling, St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney

Stained glass window above main entrance:-

Stained Glass Window, St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney

Unstan Chambered Burial Cairn, Orkney

The Unstan Cairn stands near the shores of the Loch of Stenness. It’s signposted from the main Kirkwall-Stromness road. Access is via a farm road/track but there is a small car park by the final path to the cairn.

Unlike some of the neolithic remnants we visited on Orkney we had his one to ourselves.

From northeast:-

Unstan Chambered Burial Cairn, Orkney From North

From northwest:-

Unstan Chambered Burial Cairn, Orkney, from northwest

Entrance. There is a latched gate to open before crawling into the chambers:-

Unstan's tomb

Entrance to interior from gate:-

Unstan's tomb

We were surprised and delighted that there was plenty of light inside as it has a modern roof with a skylight.


Interior, Unstan Chambered Burial Cairn, Orkney

A side chamber:-

Chamber in Unstan Chambered Burial Cairn, Orkney

Another side chamber:-

Chamber, Unstan Chambered Burial Cairn, Orkney

In time-honoured tradition people have carved grafitti onto the stones (as those Vikings did at Maeshowe). Some of this at Unstan is very modern, though. Well, there’s no attendant to stop it:-

Carved Grafitti, Unstan Chambered Burial Cairn, Orkney

This carving may be old though:-

Unstan Cairn carving

Entrance/exit in natural light:-

Entrance/Exit Unstan Chambered Burial Cairn, Orkney

Entrance/exit lit by flash:-

Entrance/Exit, Unstan Chambered Burial Cairn, Orkney

Skaill House, Orkney

Skaill House is Orkney’s biggest mansion house. It overlooks the Bay of Skaill and in its grounds were discovered the remains of the neolithic village of Skara Brae (see earlier posts.) Since the ticket for Skara Brae also conferred entry to the house we had a look round.

Skaill House from path from Skara Brae:-

Skaill House, Orkney

Skaill House Entrance:-

Skaill House Entrance

Skaill House, cartouche above entrance:-

Skaill House Cartouche Above Entrance

Skaill House Library:-

Skaill House Library

Skaill House Library circular window. This is the window you can see in the rightmost part of the house in the first photograph above:-

Skaill House Library Circular Window

Skaill House Library, books:-

Skaill House Library, Books

Skaill House, framed crest and flags. The flag and naval ensign surmounting crest of Imperial Germany:-

Skaill House Framed Crest and Flags

Skaill House Armada Chest. Many of the ships from the Spanish Armada made their way up round the top of Great Britain (and Orkney) and were wrecked. Some settled in Orkney:-

Skaill House Armada Chest

On one of his voyages Captain Cook’s ship landed at Stromness, and he was entertained at Skaill House. His dinner service from the Resolution was acquired later by the house and can be seen in the press (cupboard) to the left in the photo below:-

Skaill House Captain Cook's Dinner Service

One of the house’s past owners had a model of St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, built for him and it sits behind glass in a bedroom:-

Skaill House Model of Saint Magnus Cathedral

A son of the house was involved in the British intervention in Russia after the second Revolution of 1917. Photographs and other memorabilia:-

Skaill House Memorabilia of Russia

Lyness Royal Naval Cemetery, Hoy, Orkney (iii)

An unknown sailor of the Great War, HMS Narborough, 12/1/1918:-

A Sailor of the Great War

An unknown sailor from the Royal Oak, sunk by a German submarine, 14/10/1939:-

A Sailor of the 1939-1945 war.

There are civilian burials in the cemetery at Lyness. Whether these deaths were due to enemy action or not is not made clear on the gravestones.

A Merchant Navy Seaman, Ham Fat, fireman, SS Pass of Leny, 14/6/1943:-

Merchant Navy Seaman, Lyness Royal Naval Cemetery

T H Coleman, First Radio Officer, S S Vasna, 17/9/1941, aged 46:-

Merchant Navy Sailor

“A Parsee” and “A Musalman” Sailor:-

A Parsee and A Musalman Sailor

K Ullah, fireman and trimmer, K Ullah, SS Mostyn, 30/1/1941, aged 32:-

K Ullah

Lyness Royal Naval Cemetery, Hoy, Orkney (ii)

Unusually for a Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, in Lyness Royal Naval Cemetery, Hoy, Orkney, there are memorials other than the Cross of Sacrifice and the individual graves.

I posted about the HMS Vanguard Memorial on the anniversary of its sinking.

There is also a memorial to HMS Hampshire on which Lord Kitchener and many others died.

HMS Hampshire Memorial, Lyness War Cemetery

HMS Malaya went down in the Battle of Jutland:-

HMS Malaya Memorial, HMS Hampshire Memorial, Lyness War Cemetery

This cross commemorates Roman Catholics:-

Roman Catholic Memorial, Lyness War Cemetery

The following memorial is to “Henry Dixon Dixon-Wright, Chaplain to HMS Barham, died 1/6/1916 of wounds received in the Battle of Jutland and in memory of officers of HMS Barham who fell that day and lie at sea.” (I note the absence of “and men” in the dedication):-

HMS Barham Memorial, Lyness War Cemetery

Gravestone of Zu Sing Kang RFA (Royal Fleet Auxiliary) who died at Scapa Flow, 2/5/1916. “Erected in memory of a kind act done by a Chinaman in nursing a blinded working man afterwards Senator McGregor of the Australian Commonwealth”:-

Zu Sing Kang, Lyness War Cemetery

A Boy Telegraphist, C Rogerson, HMS Pembroke I, 5/1/1918:-

Boy Telegraphist, Lyness War Cemetery

A Boy 1st Class, J T Porter, HMS Malaya, 31/5/1916:-

Boy 1st Class, Lyness War Cemetery

German graves:-

German Graves, Lyness War Cemetery

Maeshowe Chambered Burial Cairn, Orkney

Maeshowe is another neolithic site in Orkney I’d always wished to visit. It’s a 5,000 years old chambered cairn, with three burial chambers, two of which dog-leg to the right, one to the left. The bodies were exposed to the elements to be stripped down to the bones before being placed in the chamber.

Unlike other sites on Orkney you can only visit Maeshowe on a guided tour. The car park by the access path has been closed and access is only via a bus from the Visitor Centre in nearby Stenness village. The guide said the road was too dangerous to allow cars to turn in and out and pedestrians to cross unsupervised. Apparently someone had been clocked going at 152 miles per hour along the road!

Unfortunately internal photographs are not allowed. The guide said that was for reasons of time.

You have to bend down and stoop for metres to get into the chamber proper through the access tunnel. You’ll find a photo of the tunnel here.

In deepest winter around the winter solstice a shaft of sunlight lights up the passage and enters the large central chamber. There is a webcam site which shows live pictures from November to February. They seem to have had some trouble with it last year though.

In 1153 some Vikings broke in to Maeshowe to get shelter during a snowstorm which lasted for days and spent their time carving runes. These can be dated fairly precisely as this type of runes was only in use for a short time. Some of the runes can be seen on the Orkneyjar web page.

Also inscribed was a fenrir which some people call the Maeshowe dragon.

Maeshowe from access path:-

Maeshowe, Orkney, From Access Path

Maeshowe showing ring rampart:-

Maeshowe Showing Ring Ramparts

From access path, showing entrance:-



Maeshowe Chamber  entrance  ce

Maeshowe from south:-

Maeshowe From South

From north:-

Maeshowe from North

Stones of Stenness (to left) and Ness and Ring of Brodgar (to right) from Maeshowe. Loch of Harray in middle ground, Loch of Stenness above and to left :-

Stones of Stenness and Brodgar from Maeshowe

Skara Brae, Orkney (iii)

Just at the beginning of the path from the Visitor Centre to the Skara Brae excavations there is a modern mock up of what the neolithic houses at the site may have looked like.

Entrance to Mock Skara Brae House:-

Entrance to Mock Skara Brae House

Internal Passage:-

Internal Passage Skara Brae Mock Up

I doubt the original houses had the electric light fitting!:-

Skara Brae Mock Up Passage

Mock up bed:-

Skara Brae Mock Up Bed

Mock Up Ceiling:-

Skara Brae Mock Up Ceiling

Mock up, hearth and dresser:-

Skara Brae Mock Up Hearth and Dresser

Bay of Skaill, Orkney

Skara Brae (see previous posts) lies beside the Bay of Skaill which has a lovely scenic beach.

Beach from Skara Brae:-

Beach at Bay o' Skaill, Orkney,  from Skara Brae

Panorama of bay and beach:-

Bay of Skaill, Orkney, Beach Panorama

There was a colouration difference under the water here:-

Beach at Bay of Skaill, Orkney

Further along the beach we spotted a fairly picturesque ruined building, perhaps once a croft:-

Ruin near Skara Brae

The abandoned agricultural equipment in foreground bolsters that assumption:-

House Ruin, Bay of Skaill, Orkney

Further along still we found this fantastic rock formation, layers on layers of sediment:-

Rock Formation, Bay of Skaill, Orkney

You can see the slabs lying in the foreground. Lots of buildings in Orkney seemed to be made from slabs of stone like this.

Skara Brae, Orkney (ii)

General scene of excavated houses – tourist path in background:-

Excavated Houses, Skara Brae, Orkney

Stone dresser:-

Stone Dresser, Skara Brae, Orkney

Excavated path:-

Skara Brae Excavation

More excavations:-

More Excavation Skara Brae

Neolithic Construction Skara Brae

This has no beds nor dresser and so it is believed to be a neolithic workshop, photo taken from west. The beach at Skaill Bay is visible to left (in Skara Brae’s heyday the sea was much further out) Skaill House in background:-

Neolithic Workshop, Skara Brae, from West

Neolithic Workshop from North, Skaill House in background:-

Neolithic Workshop, Skara Brae, from North

Neolithic workshop from East:-

Neolithic Workshop, Skara Brae, from East

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