St Margaret's Hope

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St Margaret's Hope
Scots: Saunt Marget's
St Margaret's Hope - - 1303670.jpg
Buildings on the shore at St Margaret's Hope
Island: South Ronaldsay
Grid reference: ND445935
Location: 58°49’34"N, 2°57’40"W
Population: 550  (approx.)
Post town: Kirkwall
Postcode: KW17 2SW
Dialling code: 01856
Local Government
Council: Orkney Islands
Orkney and Shetland

St Margaret's Hope, known locally as The Hope (pronounced "Hup"), is a village on South Ronaldsay, the southernmost inhabited isle of Orkney. It has a population of about 550, making it Orkney's third largest settlement, beaten only by Kirkwall and Stromness.

The village stands off Water Sound at the head of a sheltered bay on the northern coast of South Ronaldsay. It is connected to the Orkney Mainland by the A961 road across the Churchill Barriers.

The Hope is South Ronaldsay's main village, and is named either after Margaret, Maid of Norway, who may have died there, or St Margaret, Queen of Scotland, the wife of Malcolm III.

The latter explanation is suggested by Victorian Ordnance Survey maps which show the ancient site of an early Christian chapel dedicated to St Margaret. No remnants of this structure can now be seen but it was near the Smiddy Museum (on the present day site of a local authority housing development named Erlend Terrace).

The village has a primary school, a small blacksmith's museum, a number of shops and restaurants. Pentland Ferries run a regular service from the pier in the bay to Gills Bay on the mainland of Great Britain.


St Margaret's Hope is known for its annual Boys' Ploughing Match, a local tradition where young boys plough in the sands at the nearby Sand of Wright, and young girls (or boys, though this is now a rarity) wear traditional 'horse' costumes.


Scant traces of an Iron Age broch can be found in a field off the Ontaft road above the village. Again, the site could once be identified by Victorian Ordnance Survey maps, but with the passage of time and all but a 'crop mark' remaining, modern maps do not show its location.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about St Margaret's Hope)