A project to record every last detail of Orkney's iconic St Magnus Cathedral is set to begin later this year, using laser technology to identify any risk to the famous sandstone building.

In 1135, Earl Magnus Erlendsson of Orkney was canonised and two years later the foundations were laid for a massive, sandstone cathedral in his honour in what is now the Orkney capital of Kirkwall. It took 300 years to build.

King James III of Scotland in a charter dated 1486 gave it to the inhabitants of Kirkwall.

The red and yellow sandstone structure has long been recognised as having international significance.

Now Orkney Islands Council, which maintains the 12th century building on behalf of the people of the islands, is seeking to recruit experts to carry out detailed laser scans of the internal and external structure of the cathedral.

A major aim of the new project, which will cost up to £30,000, is to generate a detailed 3D record of the celebrated building, which can be compared with future scans to detect any changes in its fabric and allow for analyses of weathering, erosion, decay, moss build-up or shifts due to subsidence.

It is also hoped to use the laser scans to develop digital tours of the cathedral, under separate proposals for a major exhibition on the history of Kirkwall - supporting researchers, providing insights for people planning to visit Orkney, and enhancing the experience of visiting tourists.

The laser scanning project has the backing of the Society of the Friends of St Magnus Cathedral, who formed in 1958 with the main objective of raising funds to ensure the preservation of the historic building. The Friends have committed to contributing half of the costs of the laser scanning.

Secretary of the Friends, David Oddie, said the society is delighted to be contributing to the project.

"It goes right to the core of our chief aim - protecting and safeguarding the condition of this majestic building. The joint funding of this work is a reflection of the good relationship we've had with the council for many years."