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Ladykirk Stone


<b>Ladykirk Stone</b>Posted by widefordImage © wideford
This site is of disputed antiquity. If you have any information that could help clarify this site's authenticity, please post below or leave a post in the forum.
Also known as:
  • St Magnus's Boat

Nearest Town:Kirkwall (26km N)
OS Ref (GB):   ND440843 / Sheet: 7
Latitude:58° 44' 34.52" N
Longitude:   2° 58' 3.49" W

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<b>Ladykirk Stone</b>Posted by wideford


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Visited 3.6.12

Well I did visit but the church door was locked and I couldn’t get the key as it was a Sunday.
I tried looking through the windows but couldn’t see the stone.
The church is right on the shoreline.

I did have a look around the lovely old grave yard and admired the weather beaten old tombstones covered in the now familiar ‘hairy’ lichen.

I do like an old church / graveyard with character.
Posted by CARL
6th July 2012ce

This can be found in a church alongside the road to Burwick pier where the short sea ferry crossings take place in the tourist season). It is now in a back room at the church, and the key can be had from the lady who runs the local P.O. As this is on the 1:25,000 but unsignposted it is probably best to enquire at the Tomb of the Eagles in order to avoid disappointment outside of its limited post office hours. wideford Posted by wideford
9th April 2007ce


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There is (or was), in Lady Kirk, at Burwick, South Ronaldsay, Orkney, a large stone which, according to the Rev. G. Low, tradition says St Magnus used as a boat to ferry him over the Pentland Firth, and for its service laid it up in the church, where it is still preserved.

[...] John Bellenden, archdeacon of Moray [in 1529], states the legend to this effect:-- South Ronaldsay is an island inhabited by robust men; it has a church near the sea-shore, where there is a very hard stone called 'a grey whin,' six feet long and four broad, in which the print of two naked feet is fixed, which no workman could have made. Old men narrate that a certain Gallus, being expelled the country, went on board of some ship to find an asylum elsewhere, when suddenly a storm arose by which they were exposed to great danger, and at last were shipwrecked; he at length jumped on to the back of a whale, and vowed, humbly praying to God, that if he was carried safely to shore, he would in memory, &c., build a church to the Virgin Mary. The prayer being heard, he was carried safely to the shore by the assistance of the whale. The whale having become changed into a stone of its own colour, he placed it in that church where it still remains. (Barry's Orkney Islands, p. 443.)
From F.W.L.Thomas's article on Dunadd in PSAS, Dec 1878.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
5th April 2015ce
Edited 5th April 2015ce

Stone Hone, ND25NW 13 at ND24265736, by tradition is the grave of an Earl Liot(us) of Caithness and Orkney [Ljot Thorfinnsson]. wideford Posted by wideford
25th May 2012ce
Edited 25th May 2012ce

Saint Magnus appears to come into the story sometime between the 16th century and 1690. Down in Caithness a story was told of the saint turning a dragon into the Stone Hone in the Watten parish, now reduced to rubble.
The first mention is that a man was shipwrecked and got home by jumping on the back of a monster, which he then turned into the stone, this "Gallus" promising to dedicate a church to St. Mary. Although the writer wrote of the stone being by a 'temple' near the shore I presume this simply means the kirk. Between this time and 1701 it seems to have been reduced from 6'x4' to the present dimensions - perhaps this was to remove some pagan feature.
By Gallus we might be dealing with another word for a RC priest - perhaps Magnus' name was attached to protect the stone at a time of religious upheaval. Of course as this saint was an earl of virtually kinglet status it could have been attached even earlier.
wideford Posted by wideford
3rd September 2004ce
Edited 25th May 2012ce

The alternative name comes about because St.Magnus was held to have used it as a boat . wideford Posted by wideford
27th February 2004ce


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Previous chapel is grassy mound between on banks of Burwick loch, between this and and shoreside road. X for St.Colm's Chapel shown on 1882 map at ND44168427. Originally occupied an islet in the now-drained loch so probably on a crannog/broch/island dun site. wideford Posted by wideford
24th April 2006ce
Edited 24th April 2006ce

In the kirkyard of St.Mary's Church near the Burwick pier there is a water-worked whinstone with two hollows resembling feet .
It has been suggested in the last few years that it is the inaugural stone of a sub-king with land in both South Ronaldsay and Caithness.
wideford Posted by wideford
27th February 2004ce
Edited 10th September 2004ce