Magnus 900

Magnus Erlendsson was one of the Norse earls of Orkney who became its patron saint. Although the date of his martyrdom is uncertain, Orkney will mark the 900th aniversary in 2017.

According to the Sagas , cousins Håkon Paulsson and Magnus Erlandsson were joint Earls of Orkney, but their relationship became soured by Håkon's jealousy. The Earls agreed to meet on Egilsay just after Easter to settle their differences. However, Håkon arrived with eight vessels rather than the agreed two and, although Magnus offerred to be exiled or imprisoned, Håkon had him executed.

Håkon went on to be a respected ruoler who led a crusade to the Holy Land. Magnus's remains were interred at Christ Church in Birsay, where a series of miraculous events and cures began to be reported. Magnus was made a saint and his relics were transferred to the Cathedral in Kirkwall erected by his nephew Rognvald when he took control of the Earldom.

The 2017 Festival will have a strong Norwegian flavour, featuring the Norwegian Radio Orchestra (KORK) and our old friends the Trondheim Soloists.

Keep an eye on this page for more details of our Magnus 900 programme and watch out for other events across Orkney. See also Orkney Islands Council's Magnus 900 site for more information

So far, confirmed events include:

  • St Magnus Day events - Easter weekend
  • St Magnus International Festival - 16-21 June
  • St Magnus Marathon -  2 July - more details
  • Diocese of Aberdeen Pilgrimage - 28-30 July - more details
  • Tree Lighting weekend - 9-10 December 
  • Opening of St Magnus Way, pilgrimage route - throughout the year.
  • For the Journey and Return art project - various events in Orkney and Norway

Portrait of St Magnus

The portrait of St. Magnus (left) which hangs in his Cathedral was painted by leading Norwegian artist, Håkon Gullvåg. An exhibition of his pictures was shown in the Cathedral as part of the 2014 St. Magnus International Festival, following which Mr. Gullvåg presented this painting as a gift to the Cathedral.

St Magnus International Festival, 60 Victoria Street, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1DN

T: +44 (0)1856 871445


St Magnus Festival is a charity registered in Scotland. Scottish Charity No SC011666. Company Number SC073825.

website by plexus media