Our visit to St Magnus Cathedral and the Orkney Museum

A blog post by Class 5.

At the cathedral Fran told us that when it was being built you would be able to see the Peedie Sea in front of the cathedral. Red and yellow sandstone was found under the museum around a ramp or jetty where the builders brought it by ship from Eday. Now when you look across the road you can see shops. The land was reclaimed and shops were built there about two hundred years ago. 

The stone mason carved their mark so the chief mason would know how much to pay them and to see how much work they did. They all had different marks. We felt the symbols because we would be touching history.

The paintings on the roof got covered in plaster and painted white. The paintings were of gardens, patterns and saints. The paintings would be painted in bright colours and patterns. The covered up every bit except the one that was left because you couldn't see any of the pictures on the other ones.

In the middle of the cathedral there are four hooks on the pillars. They were put there by Cromwell to tie his horses. It was at the time when there was no king or queen.

Fran told us more about the St Magnus story.

When Haakon arrives at Egilsay.

Earl Rognvald.

Kol Rognvald's father.
 Years ago Magnus's nephew went to Orkney and said, 'If you make me Earl of Orkney I'll build a cathedral in Magnus's honour'. The people of Orkney agreed. 

When the church was getting rid of the bones of the saints the people of Orkney hid the bones of St Magnus in a pillar in the cathedral. Five hundred years later when they were repairing the pillar they found the box with St Magnus's bones inside it. They knew it was St Magnus because the skull had a big crack in it. They put the bones back in the pillar in a new box. They box is behind the stone with the cross on it. The original box is in the museum.

In the Viking age if they needed to cut grass or crops they used a sickle. At the museum today we saw a real sickle used by a Viking. It was made out of iron. You could only see the hook because it was broken and it was rusty all around. We saw Viking board pieces as well. They were made out of whalebone . The pieces were some beads. They were in a pouch so they were together. They were buried at a Viking grave at Scar in Sanday.

In the Orkney museum we looked at a box that had had St Magnus's bones in it. They put the bones in a new box back in the secret place.The old box is ancient and fragile.

The comb was made out of deer's antlers. The male deer's antlers fall off every year. They carved the deer's antlers. The men and women used combs for their hair. They hung them on their belt or in a pouch. The combs had some designs on it.

In the museum we looked at a sword and it was really rusty. The end of the sword was broken. Blowflies had laid eggs on the sword and when the eggs hatched there were maggots. There were little cases on the sword from the maggots.

The whalebone plaque was made out of whale bone. It was found in a grave in Sanday.


  1. very interesting p5, what a good trip! very informative. Holly (cierras mum)

  2. That looks like a very interesting trip. Erlend Ballantine's Dad

  3. It must have been very interesting to learn about the cathedral and St Magnus. Tommy [Erlend's brother]

  4. I enjoyed the trip to the Cathedral, I found Fran's talk very interesting and found out a few new facts and some I'd forgotten. I know you (P5 are too young to go on the tour of the tower/spiral part of the Cathedral yet, but when you get to 12, it is really worth while, I went 3 years ago and really enjoyed the tour and found out lots about our heritage) but Fran did an excellent job today, telling us the Story of St Magnus. The museum was interesting too and no doubt Tom Muir's stories next week about the Vikings will be exciting, you'll have to tell us all about them in your class blog, (I look forward to hearing all about them next week. Caroline (Erin R's mum)

  5. today we went to the cathedral and the museum and learnt lots of great interesting facts at the cathedral we learnt about the carvings on the wall and
    We learnt about the story of ST Magnus and all the saints and at the museum we saw some Viking things, found at the scar from Sanday. Erin R

  6. This trip looked very intresting ,I would of liked to learn all about the Vikings and what they got up to . Jennifer ( scotts mum )

  7. Caitlin said 'this was the most interesting trip' looks like you all learnt a lot about the Cathedral. : ) Catherine (Caitlin's mum)

  8. Great stuff!
    Jake really liked the bones hidden in the pillar.I like the hooks for tying your horse to. Not sure you would be allowed in with a horse these days.Jake also liked the stories about the Saints and Earls. Craig (Jake's Dad)