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


4.2/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Irene Dayer (2 years ago)
Norse site with early church...distinctive round architecture..loved it.
gary spear (2 years ago)
Very interesting.
Stuart Ramsay (2 years ago)
Small museum but perfectly formed. Part of larger project across Orkney.
Julie Hodgkinson (2 years ago)
There is a small, free car park and visitor centre with displays and an extremely good video presentation that explains the links between the site and the Orkneyinga saga. The round church, the oldest surviving in Scotland, was probably built in the 12th Century by Earl Hákon Pálsson and said to have been inspired by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, which the earl visited after the first crusade to atone for ordering the murder of St Magnus. Also on the site are the remains of a hall, likely the drinking hall attested to by the Orkneyinga Saga.
sharan s (2 years ago)
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