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Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.


Status: Designated


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  • Category: A
  • Date Added: 08/12/1971


  • Local Authority: Orkney Islands
  • Planning Authority: Orkney Islands
  • Parish: South Ronaldsay

National Grid Reference

  • NGRND 47067 90842
  • Coordinates347067, 990842


Dated 1642, renovated and re-roofed 1801. 4-bay, rectangular-plan gabled church with 4 arched windows and off-centre round-arched doorway to SE elevation. Date stones of 1642 and 1801 over door. Arched window and small bellcote with bell to SW gable. 19th century lean-to porch / vestry to NE gable. Roughcast harl with ashlar skews. Timber sash and case windows with gothick-arched glazing pattern to tympanum. Graded Orkney slate roof with stone ridge. Cast-iron rainwater goods.

Statement of Special Interest

Ecclesiastical building in use as such. The early 19th century interior is a rare survival and is remarkably complete. The communion tables running lengthwise down the centre of the church and the central box pew for the church elders are particularly worthy of note, and very few examples of either of these features now survive in Scottish churches. Communion pews are also to be found in the parish churches at Ceres (Fife), Glenbuchat (Aberdeenshire), and Croick (Sutherland).

The exterior of the church is typical of the simple rectangular churches that are found across Orkney and is a relatively early example to survive intact. The Gothick glazing pattern adds significantly to the character of the church and was fashionable at the turn of the 19th century. Similar glazing is found at several other small churches in Orkney including St Columba's at Flotta, Skail Church, and St Magnus, Birsay. The church is believed to have been built in 1642, probably on the site of an earlier church. By 1795 the church was standing roofless and it was renovated in 1801. The Bellcote may date from this period, but its simple form could be indicative of a 17th or early 18th century date. A Pictish symbol stone that was found forming one of the window cills is now in National Museum of Scotland.

Upgraded from category B to A on 4 October 2006.



Marked on Blaeu's Atlas of Scotland (1654) and most subsequent 17th and 18th century maps.. Statistical Account (1795) Vol XV, p307. Hay, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches (1957), p267. John Gifford, Buildings of Scotland: Highlands and Islands (1992) p310.

About Designations

Listed Buildings

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest and these are selected according to criteria published in the, Annex 2, pp74-76.

The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Enquiries relating to works to listed buildings should be made to the local authority in the first instance. Listed building consent is required for works which a local authority considers will affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest and local authorities also decide if listed building consent is required.

Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The local authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see

Legislation introduced on 1 October 2015 allows us to state that: an object or structure fixed to the listed building; any object or structure within the curtilage of the listed building; and, any part or feature of the listed building that is not of architectural or historic interest may be excluded from a listing. If part of your building is not listed under the new legislation, the part will be excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at