Historic Scotland

Opening times

Open year-round.

 

Overview

Trace the events of a great Norse saga at the ruins of this church and high-status residence. 

The Orkneyinga Saga, dating to about 1136, tells of a great Yule feast given by Earl Paul at his bu, or residence, in Orphir. It describes a ‘large drinking-hall’ next to a ‘magnificent church’. The remains of that church survive today. 

The church, dedicated to St Nicholas, has the distinction of being one of only two round medieval churches in Scotland. Beside it lie the remains of a large building, which may well have been the ‘drinking hall’.