Historic Scotland

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Open year-round.

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Overview

Explore the ruins of the ‘Holy Isle’ – a Norse church and post-medieval settlement on an uninhabited Orcadian island.

Eynhallow is an important place in Norse folklore. It is said to be the home of the finfolk. The ruins of the Norse church were discovered by accident in 1851, when fever struck the island and houses were dismantled to make them uninhabitable.

The church had previously been used as a dwelling, and its true purpose was only apparent once the thatched roof was lost. Based on place name evidence, it may have been the site of a monastic church in the 1100s, but we cannot be sure.

The Orkneyinga Saga tells describes the kidnap here in 1155 of Olaf, the foster son of Kolbein Hruga of Wyre, who built Cubbie Roo’s Castle.

Eynhallow can only be reached by private boat from Rousay or Orkney Mainland.

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