The Kirks Project

New Kirk
The New Kirk, phase two of work.
Old Kirk
The Old Kirk, phase one of work.

Over the past 200 years, the Old and New Kirks have served an important role in the history and culture of North Ronaldsay. The Kirks Project will uphold this tradition when both buildings become locations where a wide array of activities can take place. These will include: educational lectures, retreats for private and corporate groups, exhibitions, musical performances, weddings, worship, and much more.

Many ideas for the Kirks Project have emerged over the years, including those from a twenty-three member Advisory Group. These have encompassed art, science, culture, crafts, literature and tradition, to name but a few. The next step will be to consult the entire community and membership of the Trust to generate additional ideas and arrive at a consensus. The Kirks Project could become part the North Isles Landscape Partnership funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund through OIC, and will also seek funds further funding sources as part of a wider NRT-led initiative to create a renaissance for the community of North Ronaldsay.

The New Kirk

Under the leadership of the NRT, the first phase of the New Kirk revitalisation has been completed: the session house was re-roofed; the rafters of the main roof were repaired; a new main door was installed; windows and sills were repaired and painted; a new wooden ceiling was installed with fireproof varnish; and the interior was repainted. Most recently the NRT has installed a wind turbine that will provide the long-term electricity needs of the New Kirk.

North Ronaldsay Archive Exhibit NRT Archive Exhibit

In its current improved state the New Kirk has hosted several Island weddings and currently provides an exhibition space for the North Ronaldsay Archives Project. This ongoing project documents the history of North Ronaldsay. Thousands of photographs and other historical documents have been collected from islanders and other sources to create an impressive archive illuminating the people and culture of this unique island. A portion of the archive has been made into an exhibition, which is currently on display in the New Kirk and open to all visitors to the island. For more information about the Archives Project, please click here.

"Past generations of islanders would be happy to see these buildings once again become central to the lives of islanders and visitors. Future events and activities at these locations would be right at the heart of island life.
— Ian Scott, Antebreck, North Ronaldsay

The Old Kirk

The Old Kirk will one day serve as another location for Island events. Having only been recently purchased from a private owner, the NRT faces considerable challenges in restoring and upgrading this once impressive building. The Old Kirk had sadly fallen into a state of disrepair, and in the first phase of work the NRT secured funding which enabled the repair of holes in the slate roof and the replacement of windows, grills, and doors. Most recently, attention has turned to the interior and the repair of deteriorating lathe and plaster, and installation of a community wind turbine that will contribute to the electricity needs.

Much work remains to be done, however, if the Old Kirk is to be transformed back into both a site for traditional worship, and also a multi-purpose space to accommodate a variety of events. Possible uses include a Dark Skies site (in conjunction with other locations in the North Isles), an Exhibit Space for Art associated with Island Artists, collections of books from Island Authors, books about North Ronaldsay and Research Materials, and a Retreat Centre for restoration of mind and body. While other venues could serve these functions, the special ambience of the Old Kirk will create a different atmosphere, conducive to exploring history and tradition.

We anticipate, with their special ambiance, that these impressive buildings with their special ambience will complement other island sites such as the Community Centre, the Memorial Hall, the North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory, and the NRT Lighthouse complex to host large, island-wide events attracting visitors from far and wide. Please consider donating in order to help preserve these buildings for future generations. For more information, click here.