Kirkwall Town Hall with its impressive halbardiers guarding the entrance was host to their Royal Highnesses The Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway in 2017 when they visited to mark the 900th anniversary of the death of Magnus Erlendsson (Earl of Orkney) – Saint Magnus. The earl died a martyr and was later canonised, ultimately becoming the patron saint of the Orkney Islands.
When the Crown Prince spoke, he talked of the close ties between Orkney and Norway. Orkney celebrates Norway’s Constitution Day on May 17th each year and Norway sends Christmas trees to Kirkwall every December. He also drew attention to St Magnus’s reputation for gentleness.
The Vikings were not primarily known for their peaceful solutions. St Magnus, said the Crown Prince, “was not your typical Viking earl”. The Crown Prince suggested that we may have something to learn from Magnus’ life: “The saga of St Magnus is an inspiration to acknowledge that we always have a choice: To use violence or to seek peaceful solutions. To put people or power first. To try to do the right thing even if it has a cost.”
Directions: To get to the next stop, if you are facing St Magnus Cathedral, you will see Palace Street along its right hand side. Make your way along Palace Road and after less than 100 metres you will get to the Bishop’s and Earl’s Palace entrance.