• View of Kirkwall, Orkney

Explore Kirkwall's history with new app

Download a new app and take a trip back in time through the streets of Kirkwall

An app aimed at encouraging locals and visitors alike to explore one thousand years of the history and heritage of Kirkwall has been launched.

The Kirkwall Heritage App tells the story of more than 100 buildings and sites of interest in Kirkwall and their role in the development of the town over the last millennia.

It has been developed through the Kirkwall THI (Townscape Heritage Initiative), a £3.5m scheme led by Orkney Islands Council - supported by funding from National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic Environment Scotland and the Council – aimed at enhancing Kirkwall’s historic town centre.

The Kirkwall Heritage App provides information on the history of the town


Creation of the app follows months of consultation and research by local consultants Aquatera who were appointed to carry out the project, with heritage app specialists AT Creative developing the programming. The app is free for both Android and Apple devices.

The app offers five different ‘trails’ to follow around the town, including two for ‘peedie folk’ – which feature ‘Erlend the Curlew’, who was originally created by pupils at Glaitness Primary in conjunction with local illustrator Britt Harcus last year. Users can collect ‘badges’ as they visit buildings or sites of interest in the app, and can also compare today’s street view with historical images at key locations in the town.

Researcher Tamsin Bailey from Aquatera: “Kirkwall has the most amazing, rich history - from Vikings and the growth of the town during the Medieval period to the merchant lairds and life during wartime – there are so many stories to be told through buildings we can still see today.

“The app contains a vast number of images and a wealth of historical information, pulled together with the help of the Council through the Orkney Library and Archive, the Museums teams and other local experts. It’s one way people can dip into the history and heritage of specific places, either as they follow one of the trails on the app, or just as they are out and about in the town.”

The app features images from the Orkney Library & Archive


Kirkwall West and Orphir councillor, John Richards, said: “Encouraging an understanding and appreciation for Kirkwall’s built heritage, right from a young age, is one of the key aims of the KTHI – these are hugely important factors in the long term success of conservation of our townscapes.

“On behalf of Orkney Islands Council I’d thank everyone who has contributed to this app, especially members of the public who took part early on in the process through the ‘Story of Kirkwall’ consultation events. We’re also indebted to members of the Orkney Heritage Society for their invaluable expertise and assistance, and the Kirkwall and St Ola Community Council, Kirkwall BID and Orkney Tourguide Association for their input and support throughout the life of the wider KTHI.

“Our hope is that local people will embrace the app and make use of it to access stories and information about their unique town.”

The Kirkwall Heritage app can be downloaded free from Google Play or AppStore. A booklet with information about this and other resources created through the Kirkwall THI, including the signage which will be installed on the street to help people explore the heritage of the town, has also been produced and will be available in local shops and in the Orkney Library and Archive.


The Digital Orkney project has been part financed by the Scottish Government and the European Community Orkney LEADER 2014-2020

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