Just North of the Scottish mainland lay the Orkney islands. The capital of its main island, Kirkwall, holds one of the most enigmatic items of early Freemasonry: the Kirkwall Scroll. Currently, the not too conspicuous local lodge building (see below) houses the scroll. The lodge most likely has been in possession of the scroll since 1786.

The scroll seems to have rises and falls of attention, but overall it appears to be not too well-known. Not even among Freemasons.

The scroll is 15 feet and six inches long, well over 5,5 meters. It is kept rolled up in the Kirkwall lodge building and is seldom on display. Over the years several depictions have been made of the scroll. These are redraws. The original scroll has lost much of its contrast over the years and looks quite flat. Later new drawings have been made with either also somewhat flat colours, like the example on the right; but better known are images with more contrast. Throughout this website you will see a variety of images, but mostly based on the reprint that is available from the Masonic publishing house Lewis Masonic (see “literature“).

Many symbols can be found on the scroll, some obviously Masonic, apparent references to different degrees. There are also symbols that are not or hardly recognisable. Enigmatically, with the dating of the scroll in mind, there are symbols that shouldn’t yet be there! Can the scroll teach us something about early Freemasonry and the development of the different (higher) degrees? Will you try to figure this out with me?

The scroll raises many questions, but could possibly also answer some as well. On this website I gather the available information and with the help of you readers, hope to learn more about the details. Perhaps, when we can identify some of the images used, we can learn something about when, what degrees might have been worked. The scroll has been dated between the 15th and 18th century. The most plausible (to me) dating is around 1780.