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  • Chris Jones

Orkney, a short trip.

Those of you that have been kind enough to read these blogs, you will already know that I am passionate about being a Freemason. I have been a Mason for 12 years, had I been better informed I would have joined much earlier but because of the time I've missed, I do try to make up for it by getting involved in as many Masonic activities as I can. I'm therefore incredibly fortunate to be visiting so many lodges while on this coastal walk, meeting Freemasons and learning about the craft, which in essence is what's it's all about, a journey of learning and exploration. Nothing of this aspect of this journey it is a chore, it's all a real pleasure. I'll explain in more detail on future posts why I enjoy Freemasonry so much and what I get from being part of this incredible fraternity but for now, I want to share with you the most exciting and interesting visit I have made to date.

Some years ago, I read an article in a magazine about 'The Kirkwall Scroll' and I was intrigued. The article was written by Andrew Sinclair, a descendent of Brother William St Clair of Roslin, the first Grand Master Mason of Scotland in 1736 and the man responsible for the construction of Rosslyn Chapel, a must visit if you've never been.

Much has been written, many arguements back and forth regarding the origin of the Scroll and how old it might be. It's claimed that it has been carbon dated to 1490 but because some of the details painted onto the scroll are clearly more modern, it appears that it has been repeatedly added to, this creates much consternation and debate. Claims that it may have originally been created by a Knight Templar have been made, and then disputed !!! Who knows, I certainly don't but I'd got a chance to make a visit and have a look at it and do you know what, for me, it's not being entirely sure of the exact history and sure of so many other things relating to the intricacies of Freemasonry that make it so intriguing.

After arriving in John O' Groats, I jumped a ferry over to Orkney and through contacts I made when visiting Kinloss, I was offered a bed at the Royal Engineers barracks in Kirkwall. The permanent staff Warrant Officer Steve kindly said I could have a bed in the block. I wasn't expecting to find what I did, the barracks was a former Artillery camp with an amazing history the Orcadians are very proud of.

Steve gave me a free run of the place so I got to spend some time in the museum looking through the archives, it was incredible and thank you Steve for putting me up, it was great to meet you and it's always a pleasure being in the company of Sappers and who doesn't love being in a Squadron Bar ??? 😉🍺

The following morning I had some time to have a look around Kirkwall as the chap opening up the Lodge had already organised to show another guy from England around at 11.45. I was loitering around at the end of the street when a guy walked up to me and recognising my shirt shook my hand, he was the Provincial

Grand Secretary from Leistershire & Rutland, up on his holidays with his wife, after a quick chat, there were now three of us waiting at the door for a guided tour. Raymond met us as planned and gave us a very interesting tour of the lodge and we got to see the scroll in all its glory.

The Scroll, measuring 18ft 6ins long and 5ft 6ins wide, made of strong linen cloth features over 100 Masonic symbols while the outer strips carry maps liberally adorned with cities, buildings and place names. Was it just a floor cloth, used by the Master of the Lodge and other knowledgeable brethren to teach the members of the Lodge the noble arts, was it a map perhaps, showing the location of long lost artefacts, the whereabouts of the Holy Grail, it has been suggested ??? Who knows... Robert Longdon in Dan Browns book The DaVinci Code got very excited about it didn't he and following the book and the film, Rosslyn Chapel has become a very popular destination for anyone with an interest.

Whatever the purpose of the scroll, it cannot be denied, it is very old, it hangs in a lodge founded in 1736 when two Freemasons imparted their Masonic secrets to four others, thereby forming themselves into a proper court or Lodge. Furthermore, the Masonic buildings were then built on the grounds where the Castle of Kirkwall once stood which at one time was the stronghold of The St Clair Family...

All fascinating stuff which intrigues me and thousands of others, and at last, I've had the honour of visiting, just a shame there are no meetings right now, I'll have to come back for another visit....

With a bit more time to spare before my ferry back to the mainland, I made a visit to St Magnus Cathedral and had a good look around, I booked into the local campsite for my second night and that evening I went back to the Cathedral to watch a concert. Seven 'squeezbox' (accordion) players knocking out all sorts of classical numbers, it sounded amazing reverberating around the cathedral.

This was only a whistle stop trip to Orkney, I will definitely return one day with Michelle, so much more to see but I'm not on some glorified pub crawl you know !!! I've got a walk to get on with and this little excursion was costing me time and money, I needed to get back on task... the thought of what was to come on the north and west of Scotland, the solitude, the vast expanses of coast line with very sparse habitation, perhaps I was trying to delay the inevitable !!!

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05 de jul. de 2023

but I'm not on some glorified pub crawl you know !!! ......... Yeah, right !! methinks the Lady protesteth too much 😉😉 that scroll looks amazing.


27 de jun. de 2023

Amazing and fascinating Chris, keep it all coming! 👍

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