Thursday, October 04, 2007

St Magnus



Bondi and I walked into Kirkwall to see the island metropolis in daylight. The very short pedestrianised centre runs up to the red sandstone of St Magnus Cathedral. A great example of Norman architecture, construction began in 1137 and its stonemasons came from work on Durham Cathedral. The cathedral is owned by the people of Kirkwall rather than any established church. The last final of the original series of Mastermind was conducted here, undoubtedly in deference to the host Magnus Magnusson.

The burial markers within the cathedral almost all have a prominent skull and crossbones motif, a symbol of mortality. This is further underlined by the presence of hourglass and coffin imagery.










I drove around the top of the Western side of Mainland, spending most time around Birsay Bay (above) on the trail of some of the local craftspeople. There are many jewellers, silversmith, potters and weavers who have workshop galleries well signposted around the islands. I like some of the local silverwork, especially an item based on an animal figure of Pictish origin, known as "the noble but gentle beast".

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