From the 8th century to the 16th, the Norse held influence over the islands of Orkney and ruled with a series of Earls.
The Round Church of Orphir
Built in the 12th century, it was dedicated to St Nikolas. It is said to be built by Earl Hakon and based on the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. Earl Hakon was thought to have seen the original on a Crusade done as penance for his murder of St. Magnus
Earl’s Palace at Birsay
Built in 1570s by Earl Robert Stewart, an illegitimate son of King James V of Scotland, and considered a tyrant and an oppressor by the local people.
St Magnus Cathedral
The cathedral was built to house the relics of the murdered Earl Magnus, canonized in 1135AD. Work commenced on the magnificent red and yellow sandstone structure in 1137 and was not completed until three centuries later.
The Whalebone at Birsay
A well known artifact, it has been here for over a century although it is unknown when it was originally to be found there. It looks out over the Broch of Birsay, a tidal island which has the remains of Pictish and Norse dwellings as it is a natural fortress.
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