(d. 1158)

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St Magnus (c. 1075—1117) patron saint of Orkney


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Sir James Rognvald Learmonth (1895—1967) surgeon


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(d. 1158),

earl of Orkney. The son of Kol, a chieftain in Norway, and a nephew of Magnus, earl of Orkney, Rognvald succeeded in regaining his earldom of which his kinsman, Earl Paul, had deprived him. In 1137, as a thank-offering, he began the building of the cathedral of Kirkwall, in which the relics of Magnus were enshrined. He went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, but was absent from the Orkneys for three years. He was murdered in Caithness on 20 August, and was buried in St Magnus Cathedral. Orkneyinga Saga (written c.1220) records that ‘on the boulder where Earl Rognvald's blood had poured when he was killed we can still see it, as lovely as if it had been newly spilt’. He had the reputation of a saint and there was a popular cult. Chapel Ronald at Glenkindie (Aberdeenshire) was dedicated to him.

Orkneyinga Saga. The History of the Earls of Orkney, tr. and with introd. by H. Pálsson and P. Edwards (1978); J. M. Mackinlay, Ancient Church Dedications in Scotland (1914), pp. 298–303.

Subjects: Christianity.

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