The Scapa Flow Landscape Partnership Scheme

The footprints at Ladykirk

The Ladykirk Stone

In the old church of Ladykirk in South Ronaldsay is a carved stone which shows a pair of footprints.  Each print is around 10 inches long and about an inch in depth.

The Romans often carved pairs of footprints on a stone with the inscription pro itu er reditu which reads "for the journey and return". This was used as a protective right by people about to travel. Placing their feet on the stone would mark the beginning or end of their journey.

The stone is also known as St Magnus's Boat. According to local tradition Saint Magnus sailed from Burwick across the Pentland Firth and he may have placed his feet on this stone before going aboard his ship.

In Ireland and northern Europe, rock footprints were closely associated with kingship or chieftainship.