Scheduled Monument

St Magnus Church, EgilsaySM90137

Status: Designated


Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Ecclesiastical: burial ground, cemetery, graveyard; church
Local Authority
Orkney Islands
Rousay And Egilsay
HY 46613 30392
346613, 1030392


The monument comprises a church of medieval date and part of an adjacent burial ground. The church is in the care of the Secretary of State for Scotland and is being re-scheduled to clarify the extent of the protected area.

The monument lies on the W side of the island of Egilsay, at around 30m OD. It comprises a roofless church of 12th-century date, standing almost to full height within a graveyard. The church consists of a rectangular nave with a smaller rectangular chancel to the E and a tall circular tower attached to its W gable.

The tower survives to a height of about 15m, although it probably originally stood to about 19m. It has an internal diameter of about 2.45m, narrowing to about 2m at the top. The church has two opposing rounded-arched doors at the W end of the nave and rounded lancet windows in the walls of the nave and chancel. It measures overall about 19.2m E-W by about 6.6m N-S.

The church is dedicated to St Magnus, who was murdered on the island around AD 1116, and seems likely to be that recorded in Magnus's Saga as having been built to mark the place of his martyrdom. A likely date would therefore be after 1136, when Magnus's sanctity was recognised by Bishop William of Orkney.

The area proposed for scheduling comprises the remains of the church as described and an area around them within which related material may be expected to be found. It is rectangular with maximum dimensions of 26m E-W by 13m N-S, as marked in red on the accompanying map extract.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it contributes to our knowledge of medieval ecclesiastical architecture and of the religious and political history of the period. Its importance is enhanced by the potential that associated below-ground remains may have for adding to our understanding of the material culture and burial practices of the middle ages. The importance of the site is reflected in it being chosen as a property in care.



RCAHMS records the monument as HY 43 SE 1.


Childe, V G and Simpson, W D, 1954, Illustrated guide to ancient monuments in the owenership or guardianship of The Ministry of Works; volume vi. Scotland, Edinburgh, 104.

Fernie, E, 1988, The Church of St Magnus, Egilsay. In B. E. Crawford (ed.), St Magnus Cathedral and Orkney's Twelfth-Century Renaissance, 140-62. Aberdeen University Press; Aberdeen.

RCAHMS 1946, Twelfth Report with an Inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Orkney and Shetland, vol. I, 43-4, vol. II, 228-9, HMSO, Edinburgh.

Wainwright, F T (ed.) 1962, The Northern Isles, London and Edinburgh, 182-4.

Historic Environment Scotland Properties

St. Magnus Church, Egilsay

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About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map showing the scheduled area is the legal part of the scheduling. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at

Find out more about scheduling and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


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Printed: 25/05/2019 05:54