The mystery of the three kirks uncovered

Shetland Amenity Trust have been working on a project to uncover the mystery of ‘the three kirks’ and they are now ready to share their findings. The Trust’s team at the Shetland Museum and Archives have discovered that three ancient church sites in Shetland were built from stone that does in fact originate from Orkney. Legend has it that these kirks were gifted to Shetland by three Norwegian sisters and have a key role to play in the Orkneyinga saga.

St Magnus Kirk, Egilsay, Orkney

The team at the Shetland Museum and Archives are now ready to present the results of their research through a new exhibition and a specialist talk. ‘The Three Sisters Kirks’ is a new display highlighting the latest research undertaken by museum staff, which has proven a direct link between three 12th century towered kirks in Shetland and St. Magnus cathedral in Kirkwall, Orkney.

The exhibition will highlight important research recently undertaken by Curator Jenny Murray in a joint project with local geologist Allen Fraser. They have used science to prove that red sandstone built into the local three kirks was brought here from Orkney quarries, around the same time as the cathedral was being built by Earl Rognvald to house the relics of his uncle, Saint Magnus.

Artists impression of how the Papil Kirk may have looked

Jenny Murray, Curator of the exhibition explains, “This exhibition is all about colour. The vivid red sandstone used in the towers of our three medieval kirks would have stood proud in the landscape – both a visual and spiritual beacon for the local community, who came to worship and gain healing with the help of St Magnus. We have gathered together a range of artefacts, some of which have never been on display before, to highlight a tangible link to the cathedral in Kirkwall, offering us a new chapter in Shetland’s ecclesiastical story.”

The exhibition includes church furniture made of red Orcadian sandstone, including a piscina on loan from Papil in Burra, and a small portable alter from Eshaness. There is also a very special loan from Kirkwall cathedral which has never been in Shetland before. A beautiful hand-woven altar cloth inspired by the research and made by The Shetland Tweed Company using local wool kindly sponsored by Jamieson’s of Sandness, adds another colourful dimension to this unique exhibition.

A talk by Allen Fraser and Jenny Murray on the project, exhibition and research will take place at the Shetland Museum and Archives on Thursday 26th September at 7pm. The exhibition opens on Wednesday 18th September in the Early Peoples section and runs until September next year. You can also find out more on the project through Jenny’s blog.

Related Posts

Research project commissioned to encourage locals to grow more aets!

Shetland Amenity Trust has commissioned a research project with two local straw makers to understand more about the growing of ...

Read more

‘Logical Confusion’, a retrospective exhibition of Mike McDonnell opens at the Shetland Museum

An ambitious new exhibition dedicated to the artistry of well-known local artist Mike McDonnell opened this weekend at the Shetland ...

Read more

New poetry book - ‘Love in Human Herts’

‘Love in Human Herts’, a new publication celebrating Vagaland’s finest poetry has been launched today by the Shetland Amenity ...

Read more

Film celebrating the achievements of Johnnie Notions launched by Shetland Museum and Archives

A new film which brings to life the incredible story of 18th century inoculation pioneer and Shetland crofter Johnnie Notions has been ...

Read more

Keep a look out for Skeklers this Halloween

We had a great time at our recent Skeklers Hat workshop with local artist Eve Eunson in preparation for Halloween.

Read more

Pre-school Activity Mornings

Bring your little explorers to the Shetland Museum & Archives for our heritage-filled fun sessions, designed especially for under 5's ...

Read more

National Poetry Day

To celebrate National Poetry Day we asked assistant archivist (and poet) Mark Smith to uncover a hidden gem from the archives. This ...

Read more

October Holiday Workshops

Join us this October Holidays for heritage inspired workshops and some spooky Halloween fun! From witchcraft to skeklers and faas ...

Read more

Treasure Trove Comes to Shetland

Members of the public are invited to come along with their ‘treasures’ and meet experts from Scotland’s Treasure Trove Unit ...

Read more

Bold exhibition featuring photography by legendary Diane Arbus opens at Shetland Museum and Archives

A new display of powerful and iconic photographs by Diane Arbus, one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century, opened ...

Read more

Shetland Museum and Archives Launches New Online Archive Catalogue

A new online Archives catalogue has been launched today (Tuesday 8 August) at the Shetland Museum and Archives.

Read more

CLOSED: Friday 12 noon - Sunday 12 noon

Shetland Museum and Archives will be closed from 12 noon on Friday 21 July until 12 noon on Sunday 23 July, due to a private ...

Read more

A celebration of Shetland’s maritime heritage at the museum

Shetland’s maritime heritage will be at the heart of Shetland Museum and Archives’ summer programme, with a series of themed ...

Read more

Preparing for the herring – photos from the archives

George Gen and Sarah Mackintosh, members of our Visitor Experience team have pulled together a selection of photos from our online ...

Read more

Online Survey: Have your say on our learning and outreach activities

From exhibitions and workshops to family activities and evening talk, we would love to hear your thoughts on our current offering and ...

Read more