The Cathedral Church of St Magnus the Martyr was founded in 1137 by Earl Rognvald Kolson and dedicated to his uncle, Earl Magnus Erlendson, martyred by a rival on Egilsay. The bones of St Magnus were brought to the Cathedral; in 1919 a hidden cavity in a column was found, containing a box with bones including a skull showing a wound consistent with a blow from an axe. Building began in 1137 and continued until around 1540, making the Cathedral one of the finest cathedrals in Scotland. In warm red sandstone, the building is cruciform with a tower over the central crossing. Although one of the smallest cathedrals in Britain, the building is perfectly proportioned, and the interior gives the impression of being much larger than it is. The carved oak furnishings of the 1920s were designed by George Mackie Watson (who also added the copper-clad spire to the tower). Organ by Willis 1926, restored 1971.
Open April to September, Monday to Saturday 9.00am-6.00pm, Sunday 1.00-6.00pm; October to March, Monday to Saturday 9.00am-1.00pm and 2.00-5.00pm.
The information about churches in Scotland’s Churches Scheme has been provided by the congregations or taken from the Historic Scotland list and published sources, in particular, the Buildings of Scotland volumes and the RIAS Illustrated Architectural Guides. To contact this specific church please complete the Contact this Church form above. The information is not authoritative; please contact Scotland’s Churches Trust to let us know of any errors or omissions.