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Westray, Tuquoy, Cross Kirk

Burial Ground (Medieval) - (Post Medieval), Church (Medieval), Rune Inscribed Stone (Norse)

Site Name Westray, Tuquoy, Cross Kirk

Classification Burial Ground (Medieval) - (Post Medieval), Church (Medieval), Rune Inscribed Stone (Norse)

Alternative Name(s) Westside Church, Holy Cross Chapel; Crosskirk

Canmore ID 2810

Site Number HY44SE 1

NGR HY 45509 43154

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Orkney Islands
  • Parish Westray
  • Former Region Orkney Islands Area
  • Former District Orkney
  • Former County Orkney

Archaeology Notes

HY44SE 1 4550 4315.

Rune-inscribed stone found during recent archaeological excavations.

Information from RCAHMS (I Fisher), 30 November 2000


Antiquarian Observation (1846 - 1870)

Plans and drawings by Sir Henry Dryden in folio titled 'Churches in Orkney and Shetland', dated 1846, 1851-2, 1855, 1863, 1866 and 1870 in the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland Collection.

Field Visit (June 1983)

Cross Kirk HY 4550 4315 HY44SE 1

The ruins of this building, one of the most refined of Orkney's medieval churches, comprise an original chancel and short nave which was subsequently lengthened. The chancel, internally 2.78m long by about 2.1 m wide, was barrel-vaulted, and is notable for the inclined jambs of the chancel-arch. The nave averaging 4.1 m wide, is assigned an original length of 5.56m by RCAMS, and is thus presented by differential paving in the guardianship layout. After extension the internal length was 14.17m; the extension is usually assigned to the thirteenth century but the moulding of the existing south doorway appears to be of 16th- or 17th-century date. Whereas the later work has been reduced to its foundation courses1 the original building stands some 2.5m high, which can be compared with MacGibbon and Ross's stagement that 'when certain people within living memory were pulling it down, an old inhabitant begged them not to 'pull down the Danes' work', alluding to the chancel and eastern part of the nave'. This church is unquestionably to be associated with the adjacent high-status late Norse

settlement (no. 124). The original work can tentatively be ascribed to Hafliki Thorkelsson, about the middle of the twelfth century or slightly earlier.

RCAHMS 1983, visited June 1983.

(Sir Henry Dryden, drawings 1870, in NMRS; MacGibbon and Ross 1896-7, vol 1, 124-6; Craven 1901, 172-3; RCAHMS 1946, ii, pp. 344-5, No. 1032; Marwick 1952b, 53-4; Ritchie and Ritchie 1978, 73; Lamb 1981; OR 892).

Publication Account (1996)

Originally this church consisted of a small rectangular nave with a barrel-vaulted chancel at the east end, but subsequently the nave was extended westwards, more than doubling its capacity. About 70m to the west, coastal erosion has revealed and excavation has confirmed the existence of an extensive late Norse settlement, and the church may well have served this estate.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Orkney’, (1996).

Field Visit (1998)

This 12th C chapel lies close to a Norse site of high status (HY44SE 5) and has been tentatively ascribed to Hafliki Thorkelsson. It originally had a barrel-vaulted chancel, measuring 2.87m long by 2.1m, but is now roofless. The original rounded arch doorway and one lancet window survive. The nave was originally 4.1m wide by 5.56m long but was later lengthened to 14.17m by removing the west wall. A rounded arch, supported on slightly inclined jambs, separates the nave from the chancel. These changes are usually ascribed to the 13th C, although the moulding which surrounds the later doorway are considered to be of 16th-17th C date and may be contemporary with the use of the chapel as a parish church. It is surrounded by a small graveyard. The site, which is in guardianship, is protected by a sea wall and has been consolidated for public access.

Moore and Wilson, 1998

Coastal Zone Assessment Survey

Photographic Survey

Photographs of Westside Church, Westray, taken by Historic Scotland


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