© Spiritual Orkney

Kirkwall, Orkney

Kirkwall Town and 'Witchy' Walk

A walking tour of Kirkwall enables us to see all the nooks and crannies of this wonderful old town at a leisurely pace - with a focus on this historic witchcraft trials.

Kirkwall is the capital city and royal burgh of Orkney, founded by Viking traders about 1050 AD, it is the most northerly city in the British Isles.

Learn about the earliest Viking settlement of Kirkjuvagr 'the chuch by the bay', see where the original Norse harbour extended to, and how much of the modern town is built on land reclaimed from the sea

See the sites of the earliest church and the Norse Ting (parliament)

Hear stories of the navy's press gang and see where they operated

Tour St Magnus Cathedral - the most northerly cathedral in the British Isles and very much the jewel in Orkney's crown - hear the story of the martyrdom of Orkney's patron saint and see the dungeon where medieval witches were held

See the site of Henry Sinclair's castle and learn about the Stewart rebellion which led to its destruction

Tour the ruins of the Bishop's and Earl's Palaces (entrance charge applies)*

Learn about the wealthy Merchant Lairds of the seventeenth century and see where they lived

Hear about Kirkwall's Ba game and see where it is played

Be amazed by the 'Big Tree' - winner of 'Scotland's Tree of the Year' in 2017 - and find out why it still survives

Be shown around Tankerness House and the Orkney Museum

Discover the Grootie House in the gardens of Tankerness House ...

Then we will start to tell tales of historical witchcraft, torture, spells, charms and gruesome executions.

Orkney has always been notorious for its witches, some were even quite famous, and a couple of hundred years ago, these islands were a hotbed of allegations and accusations ...

We were actively involved with the project which installed a memorial to the historic victims of Orkney's witchcraft trials at Gallow'Ha (Kirkwall) in 2019.

To recognise this, we have added this fascinating walking tour which starts from St Magnus Cathedral - where many of the trials were held and the accused imprisoned - along Victoria Street, and finally a walk up Clay Loan - the same route the condemned may have taken - to Gallow'Ha, where we will be able to view the memorial.

This whole tour takes approximately 3-4 hours and our fee is based on our half-day rates.

A walking tour enables us to see all the nooks and crannies of this wonderful old town at a leisurely pace. You will need to be able to walk for about 1 mile / 1.5 kms. Dress according to the weather and your comfort. Walking boots are preferably, but not essential, as some of the pavements are uneven. There are public toilets on this tour; bring your own snacks and drinks ... or try a delicious Orkney ice-cream on your way through town!   


On your instructions we can add tasting sessions of traditional Orkney food and drink, or visits to local distilleries (gin or whisky), or perhaps include a delicious Orkney lunch, for which additional charges will apply.

Price on Request

Departure days

  • Monday
  • Tuesday
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
  • Friday
  • Saturday
  • Sunday

January — December

Contact details

Spiritual Orkney

KW17 2JU

Key facilities

  • Parking
  • Pets Welcome

Tour information


  • Orkney


½ Day


  • Walking


  • Bespoke
  • Private
  • Small Group (1-16)


  • English


  • Ancestry
  • Archaeology
  • Castles
  • City
  • Food and drink
  • Ghosts and Supernatural
  • History
  • Photography
  • Religious Pilgrimage
  • Walking

Tour Stops

Spiritual Orkney

Tour company information

Spiritual Orkney

Orkney is a magical, sacred and spiritual place ... along with Iona, Newgrange, Stonehenge, Glastonbury and many other sites, Orkney is acknowledged as one of the world's 'thin places': a place where the veil between this world and the others is particularly permeable. Orkney calls and tugs the souls of so many people, making it the perfect place for pilgrimage. At Spiritual Orkney, we offer guided 'tours with more' ... specialising in prehistoric archaeology, Norse history, and Orkney's folklore, we would love to help you to make the most of your visit.

Opening times

All year, all day.

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Key facilities

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