Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see ‘About Listed Buildings’ below for more information.


Status: Designated


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Date Added
Local Authority
Orkney Islands
Planning Authority
Orkney Islands
St Andrews And Deerness
HY 58841 6355
358841, 1006355


1798, altered, Joseph Mitchell, 1829, interior altered 1924. 1 x 4-bay rectangular-plan gabled hall church with corbelled, pyramidal-roofed birdcage bellecote to W gablehead; low single-bay gabled session house to W end; low, single bay gabled vestry to E end. Harled. Round-arched windows.

N (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: bays grouped 1-4-1. Tall window in each bay to centre. Boarded door, offset to left, in recessed session house bay to right. Window in recessed vestry bay to left.

S (REAR) ELEVATION: bays grouped, from left, 2-4-1. Tall window in each bay to centre. Boarded door offset to right with window to left flanking, in recessed session house bays to left. Boarded door in recessed vestry bay to right.

W ELEVATION: window, offset to left in gabled session house bay; gablehead stack; round-arched window below birdcage gablehead bellecote above.

E ELEVATION: blank gabled vestry wall with gablehead stack; round-arched window to crucifix-finialled gablehead.

Fixed timber-framed windows. Old Orkney grey slate roof; red clay ridge; coped skews; cavetto-moulded skewputts; harled, corniced stacks; cast-iron rainwater goods with some uPVC replacements.

INTERIOR: boarded, canted ceiling with central, hexagonal ventilator; boarded dado; 2-leaf timber-panelled door within round-arched recess from session house to W end; WWI commemorative timber communion table with blind arcade, carved chair and pulpit; round-arched timber-panelled door to vestry to E end; timber pews; timber-panelled door and fireplace to session house; hogback tombstone in session house, (see Notes).

CHURCHYARD AND RAILINGS: rubble walls enclosing rectangular-plan churchyard to W of church; rubble, square-plan piers with curved pyramidal caps to N of W gable; 2 sets of harled square-plan piers with curved pyramidal caps to S wall; timber gates; decorative ironwork railing along S wall; predominantly late 18th and 19th century headstones.

Statement of Special Interest

Ecclesiastical building in use as such. Features to note include the corbelled birdcage bellcote and the surviving stone slates. Built on the site of a much older building with twin, cap-roofed circular towers, depicted by Low in 1774, it takes its present name from SS St Ninian which went ashore in the bay in 1903. An important and well-preserved, red sandstone hogback tombstone dating from the late 11th to the early 12th century was found in the churchyard and originally belonged to the earlier church. The stone is 1.73 metres long with four rows of tegulae of roof tiles carved along either side, the tiles increasing in size towards the base and is now kept in the session house.



O S A (1798), p266; G Low, A TOUR THROUGH THE ISLANDS OF ORKNEY AND SHETLAND, (1879) p 54; appears on 1st edition OS map (1882); RCAMS, ORKNEY AND SHETLAND (1946), VOL I, p xix; VOL II, plate 48; G Hay, THE ARCHITECTURE OF SCOTTISH POST-REFORMATION CHURCHES (1957) p267; W P L Thomson, HISTORY OF ORKNEY (1987) p 32; L Burgher, ORKNEY, AN ILLUSTRATED ARCHITECTURAL GUIDE (1991), p 32; J Gifford, HIGHLAND AND ISLANDS (1992), p 295; A Ritchie, ORKNEY (1996) p 108; DEAN OF GUILD, KIRKWALL, D31, 1/1/17; NMRS Photographic Records, O/786, O/787.

About Listed Buildings

Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The only legal part of the listing is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing and if a number or name is missing from a listing address it may still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing can also cover structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The planning authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. Since 1 October 2015 we have been able to exclude items from a listing. If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

If you want to alter, extend or demolish a listed building you need to contact your planning authority to see if you need listed building consent. The planning authority advises on the need for listed building consent and they also decide what a listing covers. The planning authority is the main point of contact for all applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8716 or at


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Printed: 18/03/2019 19:28