Kirkwall: Largest town on Orkney, a group of islands to the north of mainland Scotland

Kirkwall Harbour.

This evening, I am providing information on Kirkwall, capital of Orkney, a group of islands which are situated to the North of the Scottish mainland.

Summary facts and information:
  • Reflecting Orkney’s Scandinavian heritage, the name Kirkwall is probably derived from the Old Norse Kirkju Vagr meaning ‘Church Bay’.
  • Orkney was ceded to Scotland from Norway as part of a royal marriage settlement on 20 February 1472, Islanders are very conscious of their Scandinavian heritage, which is reflected in local place names and dialect.
  • Population about 9000.
  • Home to a vibrant marine industry which includes fishing, military, ferries and visiting cruise ships.
  • An increasingly popular destination for cruise ships with about eighty such vessels visiting each year bringing a total of some 80, 000 visitors.
  • Home to the impressive, St Magnus Cathedral which has its origins in the 12th century.

St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall
  • Populated with a wide variety of shops, restaurants, hotels, lodgings and a whisky distillery (Highland Park).

Narrow street in Kirkwall
  • Serves as a good base for visiting Orkney’s top historical sites such as Maes Howe, Skara Brae and Ring of Brodgar.Refer this blog post for more information on prehistoric Orkney.
  • Is home to Kirkwall City Pipe Band. See video clip below.


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