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Murdoch MacKenzie Memorial

Orkney Heritage Society’s commemoration of Orkney’s finest cartographer, Murdoch Mackenzie, culminated in the unveiling of a memorial plaque and bronze meridian marker on Harbour Street, Kirkwall, Orkney, on Friday 6 September 2019. This followed a lecture on his work given at King Street Halls as part of the Orkney International Science Festival. The lecture was well attended with a capacity audience and was well received.

A donation was received from a member of the audience to cover the cost of the road opening. The unveiling attracted approximately 50 people including pupils from Westray and Stronsay. It was undertaken by Davie Reid of Finstown and Professor Charles Withers, Scotland’s Geographer Royal. The Royal Navy and Royal Marines were in attendance. Andrew Barclay, a Kirkwall Grammar School student who completed Fereday Project on Murdoch Mackenzie, spoke during the unveiling along with contributions from Neil Kermode.


Thanks were also expressed to Stephen Kemp, Anthony and Craig of Orkney Builders who installed the bronze meridian marker and plaque. The marker had been procured by Craigie Engineering. The plaque was supplied by Historic Environment Scotland. Andrew Barclay presented Davie and Charles with commemorative pens from North Ronaldsay made from part of the timber cargo salvaged from the SVECIA wreck of 1740, an event that had given impetus to Mackenzie’s pioneering work charting Orkney’s waters.


“Murdoch Mackenzie established standards in maritime surveying which were not surpassed for more than a century. In my modest estimation, he truly stands as one of Orkney’s greatest sons.”
Bill Groundwater. The text from a talk given by Bill to the Orkney Rotary Club can be found here.