Kirkwall (kûrkˈwôl, –wəl) [key], town (1991 pop. 5,867), N Scotland, on the east coast of Mainland Island. It is the trading center and administrative seat of the Orkney Islands, with exports of eggs, fish, whiskey, cattle, and sheep. Local industries include boat building, food processing and packing. There is minor oil servicing activity. Kirkwall was founded sometime prior to 1046 (when it was mentioned in a saga) and became important as a port on the northern trade route to Scandinavia and the Baltic. St. Magnus Cathedral dates from 1137, the bishop's palace from c.1200, and the earl's palace from 1600. The latter two are ruins.
More on Kirkwall from Fact Monster:
See more Encyclopedia articles on: British and Irish Political Geography