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South Ronaldsay, St Peter's Church

Church (Period Unassigned)

Site Name South Ronaldsay, St Peter's Church

Classification Church (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) South Ronaldsay, North Kirk; South Ronaldsay, Old Kirk; Kirkhouse Point

Canmore ID 9604

Site Number ND49SE 27

NGR ND 47071 90844

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2018.

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Orkney Islands
  • Parish South Ronaldsay
  • Former Region Orkney Islands Area
  • Former District Orkney
  • Former County Orkney


St Peter’s Church, South Ronaldsay, Pictish symbol stone fragment

Measurements: H 1.52m, W 0.54m, D 0.10m

Stone type: sandstone

Place of discovery: HY 4701 9084

Present location: National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh (X. IB.2)

Evidence for discovery: found around 1850 re-used as a sill in one of the windows of St Peter’ s Church and presented to NMAS in 1853. The church was built in 1642.

Present condition: one long edge of the slab has been trimmed away and both broad faces are worn, face C more so than face A, which may suggest that it had previously lain in the churchyard with face A downwards.


Despite the weathering, it is clear that this stone had been firmly and confidently incised with two large Pictish symbols on each broad face. Face A bears a rectangle above a crescent & V-rod, both with fine curvilinear internal ornament, while face C shows a crescent & V-rod above a circular disc with notched rectangle (‘mirror symbol’), neither of which appears to have had much in the way of internal decoration.

Date: seventh century.

References: Stuart 1856, 30, pl 96; ECMS pt 3, 20-1; Ritchie, J N G 2003, 118-19; Fraser 2008, no 173; Scott & Ritchie 2014, no 6.

Compiled by A Ritchie 2017

Archaeology Notes

ND49SE 27 47071 90844

St Peter's Church [NAT]

OS (GIS) MasterMap, April 2010.


Field Visit (August 1997)

St. Peter's Church (also known as North Kirk) was built in 1642 and renovated in 1801. It is a long, narrow building, harled on the exterior, with a belfry. It has round- headed windows inset (with dates) over the doorway on the seaward side. The graveyard contains several tombstones of mid-17th C date. A Pictish carved stone, now in NMAS, was once built into the window sill of the church.

Moore and Wilson, 1997

Coastal Zone Assessment Survey

Field Visit (24 April 2007)

We were commissioned to conduct an archaeological deskbased assessment and walkover survey of an area, prior to a private dwelling development. This work was undertaken on 24 April 2007. The area lies on Kirkhouse Point, immediately S of a grade A-listed church set in a burial ground (ND49SE 27,

ND49SE 23).

ND 47001 90828 Wall and midden in N end sand quarry

ND 47025 90814 Occupation layers and structures in S end

sand quarry

ND 47164 90920 Mound to NE of cemetery

ND 47127 90892 Wall E of cemetery

The survey noted previously unrecorded extensive and complex archaeology with structures visible in the sand dune W of the church and a low grass-covered mound and a short length of curving rubble wall in the E. In light of these findings the development plans were abandoned.

Reports deposited with Orkney SMR and RCAHMS.

Funder: Mr and Mrs Critchlow

J Robertson 2007


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