About Orkney Pilgrimage

The St Magnus Way is the first project of Orkney Pilgrimage, a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation, which became a registered charity in September 2016 (SC008047). We are a member of the Scottish Pilgrim Routes Forum.

About Orkney Pilgrimage

Whilst there is a wider group of volunteers helping with many aspects of the St Magnus Way, it is our trustees who are responsible for the oversight and good governance of our work.

Rev. David McNeish - Chair

David is minister of Birsay, Harray and Sandwick Church of Scotland (Milestone Community Church), with a background in parliamentary and public affairs with the Citizens Advice Bureau. He is experienced in lobbying for funding, writing briefings and working in partnership to deliver desired outcomes. A Member of the Iona Community, his liturgy and poetry has been published by Wild Goose Publications.

Donna Flett -Treasurer

Donna has worked in an accounting background, both in Orkney and in Aberdeen, since 1987. She qualified as a Member of the Association of Accounting Technicians in 2009 and has worked as a Finance Administrator at Aquatera Limited since 2012. She assists in the delivery of the financial elements of projects as well as producing the management accounts for the company. She also has experience in the grant funding application process and in preparing claims.

Beryl Matthews – Secretary

Beryl Matthews has found that living life has turned her into the consummate volunteer. She has been involved in a variety of groups over the years taking an active part in the management of the groups of which she has been a member. Along the way a love of ‘pilgrimage’ has developed. The benefits felt from undertaking such an activity have led to her participation in the Orkney Pilgrimage Group.

Andy Fraser

Andy Fraser was a senior lecturer with Orkney College UHI and pastor of the Christian Growth Centre where he is now Manager of the Life Centre, a church and community facility. He helped establish Orkney Healing Rooms (2006), Orkney Street Pastors (2011) and the Orkney Seafarers Centre (2016). He is a trained counsellor and Chair of Vital Talk Counselling Service.

Dr Sarah Jane Gibbon

Sarah Jane is a lecturer at the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute. Sarah Jane’s research focusses on Orkney’s medieval church with specific reference to parish formation, pilgrimage and places of power and religion. She has recently given papers on St Magnus Pilgrimage in Orkney to audiences in Orkney (St Magnus Day Lecture, April, Birsay Orkney), Norway (St Olaf Conference, May, Trondheim) and Lithuania (EAA Conference, September, Vilnius) and is part of an international academic network researching medieval pilgrimage in a North Atlantic context. A native of Orkney, Sarah Jane’s research is landscape based and informed by her knowledge of Orkney’s topography, history and culture. Sarah Jane has researched and compiled an Historical Information Report on the route which is downloadable as site by site entries in the Resources section of the website. The list of entries can be viewed here.

Jane Liptrot

Jane Liptrot has a background in agriculture and managed a farm along with her husband in the West Mainland for 25 years. She now runs a Bed and Breakfast and has worked with children in recreation for many years.

Rev Fraser MacNaughton

Fraser is minister of St Magnus Cathedral. He has been a parish minister for 35 years and a former University chaplain where he regularly took students on pilgrimage. An Associate of the Iona Community, he has a particular interest in contemporary Celtic liturgy and is an experienced liturgist and accompanist of people in their search for meaning.

John Stockan

John Stockan is a chartered surveyor with an extensive knowledge of local contractors, landowners, building costs and property values. He has also helped run a B&B for several years and gained knowledge of the local tourism industry. He is an an elder in the Church of Scotland and property convenor during the building of a brand new contemporary church building, Milestone Community Church.

Stuart Little

Stuart spent his working life as a dentist, latterly in Kirkwall. He manages the path side of the pilgrimage project, co-ordinating the waymarking and path upgrades. He can often be seen somewhere on the Way, strimming paths through the green Orkney grass.

Pirjo Little

Pirjo hails from Finland via Nepal and Ellon. A former nurse and midwife, she is trained in spiritual direction and helps run The Well, a monthly reflective prayer group in Orkney. Pirjo helps to manage our team of volunteers and is also our contact with Mongolia, the source of our forthcoming fair trade hats.

Whilst there have been many people interested in, and involved with, pilgrimage in Orkney for a long time, this project began in October 2015 when a group of interested pilgrims began discussing how to better support and encourage pilgrimage in Orkney. It was clear that whilst much was already going on, much more could be done and the best place to start was with St Magnus. The journeys associated with him after his death, along with the growing place of Orkney as a pilgrimage destination in the Middle Ages, made it the ideal project to capture people’s imaginations and encourage exploration of our physical and spiritual heritage.

The impending 900th anniversary seemed the perfect time to launch a project that would outlast the year’s celebrations and whilst the timescale was extremely challenging we began discussing possible routes, trying to link up existing paths and places, and spent Summer 2016 walking in small groups. No one has yet walked all of the St Magnus Way – like eating an elephant we’ve divided up the route into more manageable chunks that smaller groups have been working on.

By September 2016 it was clear that the project was possible, funding was applied for and Orkney Pilgrimage was formerly constituted as a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Our first application, to Tesco Bags for Life, was successful and this was the encouragement we needed to keep going. The submission of a bid to the Orkney LEADER programme 2014-2020 helped focus attention on what we could realistically achieve and match funding was sought and, incredibly, obtained.

We began presentations to all the Community Councils, spreading the word and seeking local support and also started a Facebook page as a gathering point for those who were interested. Everything you see on this website and in the route itself is the result of hundreds of hours by volunteers who are passionate about the project.

It has taken a huge amount of hard work, perseverance and form filling as well as many hours pouring over maps, talking with landowners and stakeholders and revising and re-revising plans. But it has also been tremendously rewarding – a demanding common task brings people together, forges friendships and creates connections in all manner of unexpected ways. And we have only just begun – might you be a part of the next phase of our story. Why not support us with your time, talents or money and ensure the St Magnus Way outlives us all.

This project is being part financed by the Scottish Government and the European Community Orkney LEADER 2014 – 2020 Programme

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