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A Visit to Kirkwall
Kilwinning Lodge No. 38



The article "A Visit to Kirkwall Kilwinning Lodge No. 38 (Chartered 1740; Oldest Minute Book, 1736)", by CSAC President W.E. "Bill" Sinclair, appeared in the Autumn 1997 issue (Vol 3 No 9) of Roslin O Roslin.


Photo: Iain Laird. Click to connect to his page on the Kirkwall Scroll

Guests to the Sinclair Symposium at Kirkwall were invited to visit Kilwinning Masonic Lodge No. 38 to view the "Kirkwall Scroll".

The scroll, which hangs on the west wall of the Lodge room, measures 18½ by 5½ feet. It is made of strong linen cloth and painted in oil. It contains scenes from the history of the children of Israel.

A printed account of the decipherment of the Scroll is customarily presented every member of the lodge after receiving the third degree. The origins of the Scroll, its age and who made it, and what was its intended use are matters shrouded in mystery, but there is some evidence in the Lodge records that the scroll was used in Masonic rituals in Kirkwall as early as 1786.

This scroll is a unique piece of craftsmanship and is regarded as the Masonic Lodge's first treasure of antiquity. Members of our group had much interest in locating symbols on the Scroll relating to the Templars and indeed some similarities with Mi'Kmaq culture.

While the introduction of freemasonry in Scotland is lost in the obscurity of the distant past, it is of striking interest to the Clan Sinclair that an Orkney Earl, William St Clair, is recorded here (circa 1430) as holding the appointment of Patron of the Masons of Scotland - and this before the transfer of Orkney to Scotland in 1468. This position was hereditary and was held by the descendants of Earl William until 1736 when the last William St Clair, Earl of Rosslyn having no issue, placed his resignation before the Grand Lodge of Scotland which had been inaugurated that year.

The first elected Grand Master of the Grand Lodge was none other than this same William St Clair and the office has since that time been elected. It is William St Clair who signed the Charter that authorized the formation of the Kilwinning Lodge.

The Masonic buildings of Kilwinning Lodge are built on the very ground where the Castle of Kirkwall once stood, the Castle that was the stronghold of Prince Henry Sinclair.

Kilwinning, Kirkwall, the Masons, Orkney: all redolent with meaning for Sinclairs.


Photo caption: This photograph of the Kirkwall Scroll was taken by President Bill Sinclair on his recent trip to Orkney. [ Original photo not available online. The photo above is posted on Iain Laird's website, at http://www.laird.org.uk/Sinclair/Kirkwall_Scroll.htm .]

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