Orphir Round Church Ruins

Orphir, United Kingdom

Today Orphir contains the remains of Scotland's only surviving circular medieval church. Built in the late 11th, or early 12th century, the Orphir Round Church is thought to have been built by Earl Hakon. Dedicated to Saint Nicholas, its design was inspired by the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.

At the time of the church construction, the Great Crusades were in full swing and the circular church had become a popular design with returning crusaders attempting to copy the famous structure in the Holy Land.

Originally, the church consisted of a circular nave just over six metres in diameter and an apse. The apse remains today, along with a small section of the nave's eastern section.

The church survived, almost complete, until the middle of the 18th century when sections were pulled down and the stone used to construct the new parish church. The replacement parish church did not last and no trace survives today.



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Founded: c. 1100
Category: Ruins in United Kingdom


4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Hayleigh (5 months ago)
Average. Nice walk down to the sea out of the commonwealth cemetery
Magdalena Kowalczyk (7 months ago)
Lovely local spot, full of history.
Catherine Cowlishaw (10 months ago)
If you like Viking history, this is a great place. It's only small but well worth a visit if on this part of Mainland. Very atmospheric and clearly well cared for. Sadly the Orkneyinga Saga Centre was closed (not open in 2021 at all apparently) but still well worth seeing the ruins and the church. The area is beautiful anyway and when we visited we had the place to ourselves which was a bonus.
Joseph Kincaid (10 months ago)
Big car park beside the museum which is closed due to covid19. A short walk to the ruins in the graveyard. Not much left but as mentioned if you are interested in the Orkneyinga Saga this is a must visit. Graveyard is worth a look.
Georgina Clouston (12 months ago)
Beautiful little church yard, overlooking the sea,
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