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Lady Kirk and the Devil’s Clawmarks

The ruins of Lady Kirk can be found around a mile south-west of Lady Village and a mile north-east of Kettletoft.

The church, with walls still standing to their full height, dates back to 1773 but may well include walls from an earlier church. A door at the west end, obscured by a porch added in 1902, has been identified dating back to the 1600s.

The fact that until its redundancy the church’s effects included a pre-reformation communion cup suggests that there could well have been a series of churches or chapels on this site, perhaps dating back to to the Viking era or beyond.
No physical evidence of this has been found, so it has to remain as speculation.

Today the interior doubles as an informal nature reserve, but most people come to Lady Kirk to look at one feature in particular. At the top of the steps that once gave access to the north gallery, the dressed stone balustrade carries a series of deep grooves known as the Devil’s Clawmarks.

These are rather spooky, despite the fact that it would take a fairly large being with at least six fingers or claws to have made the marks in question.

The story says….

There was once upon a time a minister preaching in the Ladykirk.
Every Sunday he preached against sin, especially adultery.
And every Monday to Saturday, he himself enjoyed precisely those activities he preached against.
One night, as the minister was coming out of his mistress’s house and heading for home, the Devil himself stood there before him, and tried to grab him to take him to Hell.
But the minister was too quick for him: He ran for his life until he reached the sanctuary of the church, and shut the door on the Devil, who was left raging outside and clawing at the stonework.
And there you can see the marks of his six sharp claws to this very day.

Story retold from: Tom Muir, Orkney Folk Tales.