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Sandwick has only one cemetery, at the former parish church of St. Peter's on the north shore of Skaill Bay. It has three sections. The old section, surrounding the church, has 332 stones with legible inscriptions, of which the oldest is dated 1623. The new section, to the west, has 314 stones, the oldest dating from around 1910. A third section lies across the road to the east.

The inscriptions on the stones in the old section were transcribed c.1990. This work was updated in 2002, and the inscriptions in the new section are currently being transcribed. Both are to be published shortly by the Orkney Family History Society.

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Church Records

Old Parish Registers

Other chuurch records (held at Orkney Archives in Kirkwall).

Civil Registration

The Registrar of births, deaths, and marriages for the parish of Sandwick.
The Registrar's records extend back only as far as 1st January 1855 when registration became compulsory in Scotland.

Description and Travel

Sandwick takes its name from the Bay of Skaill, the only significant break in five miles of cliffs overlooking the Atlantic, its western border. The Loch of Harray and the tidal Loch of Stenness form its eastern border. The 5000 year old site of Skara Brae was awarded World Heritage status in 1999. Orknet has a page on Sandwick which contains a description of Skara Brae and the Yesnaby cliff walk.



Orkney Family History Researchers are engaged in researching family histories in Sandwick and all other parishes in Orkney. All of them are willing to share the results of their research with others.

James Irvine will be happy to help those researching the histories of families from the townships of Northdyke, Scarwell, Sutherquoy and Yesnaby.

Land and Property

From the 1620s until the 1830s the cultivated lands of Sandwick were owned by the Bishopric estate (the Crown after 1690), by the Grahams of the Breckness estate and, after 1787, by the Watts of Skaill House and by between 50 and 100 udallers (see Land and Ownership.) After the restructuring of land holdings in the 19th century the Breckness estate owned two-thirds of the parish. In the early 20th century much of this land was sold to the tenants, making most of it owner-occupied.

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[Last updated: 10 May, 2004 - Robert C. Marwick]