St Mary's Church, South Ronaldsay (Orkney)

Grid reference

ND 440 842 (accurate position)

Six-figure easting & northing

344000 984200





Altitude (metres)




Nearby places

St Mary's Church, Burwick, North Ronaldsay (0 miles)

St Colm's Chapel, Burwick, South Ronaldsay (0.06 miles)

South Ronaldsay St Mary's, former parish (ORK) (0.06 miles)

St John's Geo, South Ronaldsay (1.39 miles)

Our Lady's Chapel, Halcro, South Ronaldsay (1.48 miles)

Object Classification


Is linear feature?



This appears to be the place written about, patronisingly, by John Brand 1703: "59-60: As at all times, when occasion offers, they observe these Superstitious Practices, so especially during Lent they will not neglect their Devotions in such places, and on Easter Sunday several Boats will be seen going to them from other Isles. And tho’ their Ministers both privately and publickly have spoken to them, yet they cannot get them to forbear and abandon these Customs. And the Minister of South-Ronalsha told us, that many of the People in that Isle, especiallyu such as live at the south end thereof night to the Kirk called Our Lady’s Kirk, whereof, tho now the Walls only be standing without a Roof, yet the very Stones thereof they reverence, and are not far from adoring. And so tenacious are they, that when there is rough weather, he hath procured the conveniency of a Barn to Preach in, yet the People obliged him to come to this ruinous Fabrick, else many of them would not have heard. They are now about the putting of a Roof on this Church, which the Gentlemen of the Isle are not inclined to, judging other places more commodious for it to be built in, but Proposals of this nature to not relish with the People, they being so superstitiously wedded to the place of its present Situation. Whereupon the Heads of Families will rather by themselves contribute to the repairing of this Old Chuch than suffer a new one to be built in any other place of the Isle, tho less to their cost. In this old Fabrick of Our Ladys Church, there is a Stone lying about 4 foot long, and 2 foot broad, but narrower and round at the ends, upon the surface of which Stone, there is the print of two feet, concerning which the Superstitious People have a Tradition, that St Magnus, when he could not get a Boat on a time to carry him over Pightland Firth, took this stone, and setting his Feet thereupon, passed the Firth safely, and left the Stone in this Church, which hath continued here ever since. But as I think, and some more judicious People do likewise suggest, it hath been a Stone, upon which under Popery, the Delinquents stood bare footed suffering Penance. It is like when thus St Magnus came over the Firth, it hath been at that time, when he was seen riding through Aberdeen, giving the first account of the defeat of the English at Bannockburn, and afteward he was seen going over the Pightland Firth. And indeed both are alike destitute of any shadow of Truth, credible only by these superstitious and silly ones, whom the GOD of this World hath blnded. .... The Lord preserve this Land from Poperys Inundation....." (New Description, 59-61).