St Magnus Cathedral has always been a popular visitor attraction in Kirkwall.

You can’t miss the beautiful sandstone building which stands right in the heart of the town. More than 150,000 people visited it last year, enjoying the atmospheric interior and learning about Orkney’s past. Some will even have taken advantage of the excellent tours of the upper levels.

Now there’s another reason to visit the cathedral, or at least its immediate surroundings. A new self-guided tour of the fascinating graveyard next door has been launched.

The St Magnus Cathedral graveyard is an interesting place to explore, right in the heart of Kirkwall


Take the chance to stroll through centuries of stories and history accompanied by a new leaflet detailing some of the main points of interest. You can see the resting place of Arctic explorer John Rae and other local figures. There is also a section dedicated to the Commonwealth War Graves that can be found in the graveyard.

It’s a quiet and peaceful place to be too, surrounded by tall trees and flowers – a perfect spot for quiet reflection in the middle of a bustling town centre.

“St Magnus Cathedral was the burial ground for Kirkwall for over 800 years and we wanted to highlight some of the gravestones which relate to key characters and events throughout the town’s past,” said Fran Flett Hollinrake, Custodian at the cathedral. “Hopefully visitors will leave with an even richer sense of the spirit of the town and of Orkney.”

Learn about some of the more unique graves in the graveyard with the self-guide leaflet


Pick up your own leaflet from St Magnus Cathedral (small donations are welcome).