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South Ronaldsay, Kirkhouse, St Ola's Chapel

Burial Ground (Medieval), Chapel (Norse), Midden (Period Unassigned), Structure(S) (Period Unassigned)

Site Name South Ronaldsay, Kirkhouse, St Ola's Chapel

Classification Burial Ground (Medieval), Chapel (Norse), Midden (Period Unassigned), Structure(S) (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 9633

Site Number ND49SW 7

NGR ND 4343 9148

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

ND49SW 7 4343 9148

(ND 4343 9148) St Ola's Chapel and Burial Ground (NR) (Site of)

OS 6" map (1900)

Applies to the site of one of seven pre-Reformation chapels which, according to the Imperial Gazetter of Scotland, existed at one time on S Ronaldsay. There was also a burial ground attached but thisis now disused, and about 1830 the earth was removed for agricultural purposes.

Name Book 1879

No trace of chapel or burial ground.

Visited by OS (ISS) 30 April 1973


Field Visit (August 1997)

The site of St. Ola's Chapel and burial ground lie in the area of Kirkhouse Farm. The chapel is said to have been one of the seven pre-Reformation chapels which existed at one time. In 1830 earth was taken from the burial ground for agricultural purposes and neither it, nor the chapel site are visible now.

Moore and Wilson, 1997

Coastal Zone Assessment Survey

Orkney Smr Note (12 December 2005)

Skeleton observed eroding from gravel beach. See detailed records & photographs - perhaps part of burial ground? See OR2894 for nearny burnt mound & structures.

Information from Orkney SMR (J.G.) 12/12/2005

Excavation (March 2006)

ND 434 915 Historic Scotland commissioned us to carry out the emergency excavation of human remains in March 2006 from the cemetery associated with St Ola's Chapel, Kirkhouse. Marine erosion had exposed a single body and some mortar-bonded stone. Excavation involved the removal of a single skeleton in a poor state of preservation. A second skeleton was identified but left in situ as it was under no immediate threat. The erosion had further exposed a series of midden deposits and two structures. The earlier structure consisted of a possible red sandstone floor level that was found to underlie midden deposits. The later structure comprised a 0.90m wide double-skinned wall with a rounded pebble infill that overlay further midden deposits.

Archive to be deposited in NMRS.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland.

M Cook 2006

Excavation (March 2006)

A human remains call-off contract to excavate exposed skeletal material resulted in the identification of two skeletons which were both positioned on an east to west alignment. Presumed Christian. One skeleton was excavated, the other left, reburied in situ on the beach.

The remains of a substantial building were discovered. No chapel was definitely located.

Steatite, anthropogenic midden material nearby in the erosion section suggest a Viking/Norse/Medieval date.

Information from JG, 9/2/2012


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