Religious Identities In Island Communities

By Bernie Bell

Once again, the UHI Archaeology Institute blog has news of something of interest – this time a seminar in which Dr. Sarah Jane Gibbon and Dr. James Moore will examine the complexities of religious identities in island communities….

…and this got me thinking of the old Kirks of Orkney, including one which is very close to home.

Not far from where we live is what’s left of the old Rendall Parish Kirk, where I’ve often met with folk from far away looking for their relatives.

I’m familiar with the old Rendall Kirkyard as I go along with my Dad’s idea that a churchyard is one of the most peaceful places you‘ll find as no-one is arguing, and so I like to spend time there, which means that I can usually point out to visitors where their ancestors were buried, as they tend to be buried in family groups.

Not surprisingly, there are many Rendall’s, and also some Mainland’s – presumably from Rousay.

There’s social history there – headstones erected in memory of or by folk who had emigrated.

Many of the people who were there looking for their relatives were enraptured by the situation, and went away feeling somehow better knowing that their ancestors were buried in such a beautiful and peaceful spot.

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