Ancient Monuments

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Linton, chapel & graveyard 140m ENE of, Shapinsay

A Scheduled Monument in North Isles, Orkney Islands

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Latitude: 59.0522 / 59°3'7"N

Longitude: -2.8215 / 2°49'17"W

OS Eastings: 352975

OS Northings: 1018641

OS Grid: HY529186

Mapcode National: GBR M4DT.272

Mapcode Global: WH7BT.MQNX

Entry Name: Linton, chapel & graveyard 140m ENE of, Shapinsay

Scheduled Date: 30 November 1981

Last Amended: 9 March 2005

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM1482

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: chapel

Location: Shapinsay

County: Orkney Islands

Electoral Ward: North Isles

Traditional County: Orkney


The monument comprises the ruins of the later medieval church and graveyard situated on Kirk Hill, close to the shore of Bay of Linton on the E side of Shapinsay, between Linton and Kirkton farms. The monument was first scheduled in 1951 but an inadequate area was included to protect all of the archaeological remains. The present rescheduling rectifies this.

The chapel has two chambers - nave and chancel. Within walls c 0.9m thick the nave measures 5.85m by 4.15m and the nace is 2.5m long and of indeterminate width. The walls survive to a height of 1m in places. The lines of the walls are now largely obscured by rubble. The build is largely drystone with some external lime pointing. Unusually, in comparison to other chapels of similar date in Orkney, the entrance was on the S.

On the basis of comparison with chapels elsewhere in Orkney, such as St Mary's, Wyre, the chapel is probably of 12th-century (late Norse) date. MacGibbon and Ross (1896) suggest it was dedicated to St Catherine.

The line of the graveyard, indicated as being visible on the OS 1st edition map, is not now visible on the ground as an upstanding monument, although changes in the vegetation may be significant (the ground immediately around the church is wet). The irregular, sub-circular form of the churchyard may possibly suggest that the site has earlier Christian origins. The farmer has encountered stone structures of unknown date in the area to the NW of the church.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, with a maximum dimensions of 60m due E-W, by 54m N-S, to include the church and its associated graveyard, as marked in red on the accompanying map extract. The above ground elements of modern field boundaries are excluded from scheduling, to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance because it represents the remains of a small, late Norse church and associated burial ground. While nothing is apparently known about the documented history of the site, the building and its sub-surface archaeology retain the potential to provide information about the nature of a lordly Norse chapel and its subsequent use over many centuries. Little remains of the above ground remains of what would have been a simple Romaneque building, but the plan and form of construction contribute to our understanding of Norse architecture and its relationship to contemporary European trends. Modern Orcadian society attaches a high signifincance to the fact that it was part of Norway for around 600 years, and this site is part of the tangible evidence for this.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as HY51NW 6.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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