Kirkwall

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{church, century, christian}
{island, water, area}
{build, building, house}
{area, part, region}
{town, population, incorporate}
{language, word, form}
{god, call, give}
{land, century, early}
{county, mile, population}

Coordinates: 58°58′52″N 2°57′36″W / 58.981°N 2.960°W / 58.981; -2.960

Kirkwall is the largest town and capital of Orkney, off the coast of northern mainland Scotland. The town is first mentioned in Orkneyinga saga in the year 1046. It was established as the settlement of Rögnvald II, Earl of Orkney, who was killed by his successor, Thorfinn. In 1486, King James III of Scotland elevated Kirkwall to the status of a royal burgh; modern roadsigns still indicate "The City and Royal Burgh of Kirkwall".

The name Kirkwall is derived from the Norse name Kirkjuvagr (Church Bay), which was later corrupted to Kirkvoe, then Kirkwaa.

Contents

Overview

Situated on the northern coast of Mainland Orkney and with a population of about 8,500, Kirkwall is a port with ferry services to Aberdeen and Lerwick, as well as the principal north islands in the group. At the heart of the town stands St. Magnus Cathedral, which was founded in memory of Saint Magnus Erlendsson, Earl of Orkney 1108-1117 by Earl (later Saint) Rögnvald Kali. Next to the Cathedral are the ruins of the former Bishop's Palace and Earl's Palace. The town has two museums: Tankerness House Museum, which is contained within one of Scotland's best-preserved sixteenth century town-houses, contains items of local historical interest. The prehistoric, Pictish and Viking collections are of international importance. The other museum is the Orkney Wireless Museum, dealing with the history of radio and recorded sound.

Apart from the main historical buildings mentioned above, Kirkwall has many 17th-18th century houses and other structures in the local vernacular style. The 'Kirk' of Kirkwall was not the Cathedral (which was originally at Birsay), but the 11th century church of Saint Olaf of Norway. One late medieval doorway survives from this church, and an aumbry from the original church survives within the late 19th Century structure of the present-day Saint Olaf's Church (Episcopal) in the town's Dundas Crescent. Kirkwall also once had a medieval castle, which was destroyed in the 17th century.

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