HY4410 : St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall: the mort brod

near to Kirkwall, Orkney Islands, Great Britain

St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall: the mort brod
St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall: the mort brod
One of the great treasures of Orkney is the Cathedral of St Magnus in Kirkwall. Known as the 'Light in the North', the Cathedral was founded in 1137, by the Viking, Earl Rognvald, as a final resting place for the relics of Saint Magnus.

This curious memorial, known as a Mort Brod, hangs in the north aisle of the nave. A Mort Brod is a wooden board (brod) with a representation of death (mort). In this case Death is shown as a shrouded skeleton holding an hour glass and a grave digger's spade, both symbols of mortality. On the opposite side of the brot there is a rhyming inscription dedicated to Robert Nicolson. The inscription explains that his body lies beneath the board and that he left behind a wife. The brod also carries angels piercing a heart with darts of death, and the Latin warning Memento Mori, which translates as "Remember you will die". In ancient Rome, these words are believed to have been used when a Roman general was parading through the streets after a great victory. Standing behind the victorious general was his slave, who was tasked to remind the general that, despite today's triumph, tomorrow he could suffer defeat. The servant conveyed this by telling the general that he should remember, "Memento mori."

The Mort Brod dates from the 17th century at which time the nave and transepts were used for burials.
Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   © Copyright Martyn Gorman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
year taken
2011
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HY4410, 214 images   (more nearby)
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Supplemental image
Date Taken
Thursday, 16 June, 2011   (more nearby)
Submitted
Friday, 24 June, 2011
Geographical Context
Historic sites and artefacts  Religious sites  City, Town centre 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! HY 4492 1087 [10m precision]
WGS84: 58:58.8848N 2:57.5952W
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OSGB36: geotagged! HY 4492 1087
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EAST (about 90 degrees)
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