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.

St Manus International Festival launched the entire year by creating Orcadia:Land within the Scot:Lands strand at Edinburgh's Hogmanay.

A major communtiy production on the life of Magnus by Ron Ferguson and Gemma McGregor will be followed by a parade led by Magnus himself.

The 2017 Festival will have a strong Norwegian flavour, featuring the Norwegian Radio Orchestra (KORK) the Bergen Cathedral Choir and our old friends the Trondheim Soloists. Superstar Norwegian knitters Arne and Carlos will also return.

Click here 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:

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, 13 Albert Street, Kirkwall, KW15 1HP

T: +44 (0)1856 871445


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

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