South Ronaldsay

South Ronaldsay is one of the Orkney Islands off the north coast of Scotland. It is linked to the Orkney Mainland by the Churchill Barriers, running via Burray, Glimps Holm and Lamb Holm.

Geography and geology

With an area of 4,980 hectares (19 square miles), it is the fourth largest of the Orkney islands after The Mainland, Hoy and Sanday. Ferries sail from Burwick on the island to John o' Groats on the Scottish mainland and from St Margaret's Hope to Gills Bay.

South Ronaldsay's main village is St Margaret's Hope, named either after Margaret, Maid of Norway who died there or possibly St. Margaret. The village has a small museum and is known for its annual Boys' Ploughing Match.

The cardinal points of the island are Ayre of Cara, by Churchill Barrier no. 4 (north), Grim Ness (east), Brough Ness, (south) and Hoxa Head, (west).


Many well-preserved houses and other structures in the local vernacular style make it one of the most picturesque settlements in the Northern Isles. The island is also known for the Neolithic Isbister Chambered Cairn, popularly known as the "Tomb of the Eagles".

In 1991, the island was rocked by false allegations of widespread child abuse and satanic rituals in a scandal that saw nine children being removed from their families by police and social workers. The case was thrown out of court when it was found the social workers were using unorthodox interrogation techniques to force confessions from the children, who all denied the abuse.


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