Orkney Islands Council
Working together for a better Orkney

From beggars to bishops - stories from the Cathedral graveyard

From beggars to bishops - stories from the Cathedral graveyard
23 August 2017

Stroll through centuries of stories buried within the grounds of St Magnus Cathedral, with the help of a new self-guided tour of the graveyard.

Armed with a new leaflet published by the Council, visitors can now uncover some of the stories contained within the headstones.

Cathedral Custodian, Fran Hollinrake, said: “St Magnus Cathedral was the burial ground for Kirkwall for over 800 years, from the establishment of Magnus’ shrine to the last burials in the late twentieth century.

“Graves reveal a lot about life over different periods, from attitudes towards death and dying, to major events, social structure and life conditions throughout the centuries.

“We wanted to highlight some of the gravestones in the Cathedral graveyard which relate to key characters and events throughout Kirkwall’s past, so visitors leave with an even richer sense of the spirit of the town and of Orkney.”

The new leaflet has a section dedicated to War Graves which can be visited within the graveyard, and the War Memorial.

Resting places mapped out in the leaflet include those of Arctic explorer John Rae and entrepreneur Robert Garden, as well as the area set aside for ‘paupers graves’ – the place where Kirkwall people with little or no money were buried at the expense of the parish.

Pick up a leaflet from the St Magnus Cathedral (small donation welcome).