Site Overview

View a magnificent collection of Orkney's Viking artefacts

The Orkney Museum in Kirkwall houses a magnificent collection of Orcadian Viking material. Some of the best was found in 1991 in a woman’s grave as it eroded from the shore, near the house of Scar, in the island of Sanday.

Three pagan people – an old woman, a child and a middle-aged man – who were buried at the same time in a boat about the year 1000 AD, were accompanied by grave goods for the afterlife. Some goods attributable to the woman were particularly spectacular and are now on show in the Orkney Museum.

One of these, the Scar Plaque, that is now iconically Orcadian, probably originated in northern Norway, from where it is likely the lady came. It was already an antique at the time it was buried, propped upright against the stone wall of the burial chamber built within the boat. It was at the feet of the old lady and probably belonged to her in life. It was most likely used to smooth linen – for instance, pleating linen caps – that she would have smoothed with a warmed glass smoother.

It is known from many stories that weaving fine linen could involve magic, and so this one piece probably holds many meanings: memory of home and ancestry; fertility magic; and her role in the household.

Visitor Information
Season - Months Open
Summer: 1 May - 30 September
Winter: 1 October - 30 April
Opening Hours - Days and Times
Summer: Monday - Satuday, 10:30 - 17:00
Winter: Monday - Saturday, 10:30 - 12:30 and 13:30 - 17:00 (closed 12:30 - 13:30 for lunch)
Facility is free of charge.
Other Amenities
  • Disabled Access
Contact Details

The Orkney Museum, Tankerness House, Broad Street, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1DH

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