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39.       Now (7) the sons of earl Thorfinn took the realm after him.  Paul was the elder of them, and he took the lead over them.  They did not share the lands between them, and yet were a very long time well agreed in their dealings.  Ingibjorg earlsmother gave herself away, after the death of earl Thorfinn, to Malcolm the Scot-king, who was called long-neck;  their son was Duncan the Scot-king, father of William the nobleman.  His son’s name again was William the prince, whom all the Scots wished to take for the king.  Earl Paul, Thorfinn’s son, got to wife the daughter of earl Hacon Ivar’s son, and they had many children.  Their son’s name was Hacon.  They had a daughter whose name was Thora;  she was given away in Norway to Haldor, the son of Brynjulf (the old) camel.  Their son’s name was Brynjulf;  his son’s name was Haldor, who had to wife Gyrid Dag’s daughter.  Another daughter of Paul’s was named Ingirid, whom Einar Vorsacrow had to wife.  Herbjorg was the name of Paul’s third daughter;  she was the mother of Ingibjorg the honourable, whom Sigurd of Westness had to wife, and their sons were Hacon pick and Brynjulf.  Sigrid was another daughter of Herbjorg, the mother of Hacon bairn and Herborg, whom Kolbeinn the burly had to wife.  Ragnhilda was the name of a fourth daughter of earl Paul, she was the mother of Benedict, the father of Ingibjorg, the mother of Erling the archdeacon.  Bergliot was the name of another ? daughter of Ragnhilda, whom Havard Gunni’s son had to wife;  their sons were Magnus and Hacon claw, and Dufnjal and Thorstein.  These are all earls’ kin, and noblemen in the Orkneys, and all these men come into the story afterwards.  Earl Erlend Thorfinn’s son had to wife that woman whose name was Thora and was the daughter of Summerled the son of Ospak.  The mother of Ospak was Thordis, daughter of Hall o’ the Side.  Erling and Magnus were their (Erlend’s and Thora’s) sons, but their daughters were Gunnhilda and Cecilia, whom Isaac had to wife, and their sons (Cecilia’s and Isaac’s), were Endridi and Kol.  Jatvor was the name of a base-born daughter of Erlend, her son’s name was Borgar.

40.       When those brothers Paul and Erlend had taken the rule in the Orkneys, Harold Sigurd’s son came from the east out of Norway with a great host.  He came first to Shetland.  Thence he fared to the Orkneys.  There he left behind him Elspeth his queen and their daughters Maria and Ingigerd.  Out of the Orkneys he had much force.  Both the earls made ready to go with the king.  The king fared thence south to England, and landed in the place called Cleveland, and won Scarborough.  After that he ran in at Hallorness, and had there a battle and won the victory.  On the mid-week day (Wednesday) next before Matthiasmass he had a battle in York against earls Waltheof and Morcar.  There Morcar fell.  The Sunday after that burg was given into the power of king Harold which stood by Stamford-bridge.  The Monday after he went on land to settle things in the town.  At the ships he left behind him his son Olaf, and earls Paul and Erlend, and Eystein gorcock his brother-in-law, and Thorberg Arni’s son.  In that land journey came Harold, Godwin’s son, against king Harold with an overwhelming host.  A great battle arose at once, and in that battle fell Harold Sigurd’s son.  After the king’s fall came Eystein gorcock from the ships, and the earls, and made a very hard onslaught.  That battle was called the gorcock’s storm or the gorcock’s bout.  There fell Eystein gorcock and well nigh the whole host of the Northmen.  After those fights king Harold gave Olaf Harold’s son, and the earls leave to go away out of England, and also to all that host that had not already fled.  Olaf sailed out about autumn from Ravensere, and so to the Orkneys.  And there they heard these tidings, that on that day and at that hour when Harold fell, his daughter Maria died a sudden death, and it is the talk of men that they have had but one man’s life between them.  Olaf was that winter in the Orkneys, and he was the greatest friend of the earls his kinsmen.  They were brother’s daughters, Thora king Olaf’s mother and Ingibjorg the earls’ mother.  Olaf fared when the spring came east to Norway, and was there taken to be king with Magnus his brother.

But when those brothers ruled the Orkneys, then was their agreement great and good a long while.  But when their sons began to grow up, then they became very overbearing men, Hacon and Erling.  Magnus was the quietest tempered of them.  They were all of them tall and strong, and proper men in all things.  Hacon, Paul’s son, would be the leader over those brothers (his cousins);  he thought he was more by birth than the sons of Erlend, because he was the daughter’s son of earl Hacon Ivar’s son and Ragnhilda daughter of king Magnus the good.  Hacon would have it that his friends should have a larger lot when there was anything to share than they allowed to the sons of Erlend;  but Erlend would not that his sons should have the worst of it there in the isles.  Then it so came about that those kinsmen could not be together in peace, and there was danger with them.  Then their fathers took a share in the matter;  they were to try and make matters up;  then a meeting was fixed, and it was soon found out that each of them leant towards his own sons, and they could make no settlement.  Now disagreement arose between those brothers, and they parted bad friends, and that many thought great scathe.



1.            come into his hand, become his liegeman.

2.            Fl. adds, “and got a fair wind.”

3.            Fl. adds, “Thorkell made him captive, and bade men put an end to the earl, and offered them money to do it;  but no one would do it any more for money.  Then Thorkell did the deed himself, for that he knew that one or other of them must bow before the other.  Then earl Thorfinn came up, and did not blame the deed.”

4.            The Fl. has here left out a long passage which runs thus in the Danish translation:  “But to kjing Sweyn he gave Denmark.  He also sent his brother Thorir and many other of his friends whom he wished to be well treated to king Sweyn.  But after king Magnus was dead, king Harold gave out that he would make for Veborg Thing, and let himself be chosen there king over all Denmark;  and said that then the Norwegians would be for ever over the Danes, and made a long speech about it.  But Einar Paunchshaker answered him, and said, ‘It is more to my mind, and I am more bound, to bear the body of king Magnus north to Norway to the saint king Olaf, his father, than to fight along with king Harold for other kings’ realms.’  And at the same time he ended his speech by saying he thought it better to follow king Magnus dead than any other king alive;  and there and then Einar went to his ship, and as he went all the chiefs whose homes lay north of Stad in Norway, went with him.  Then king Harold saw no other way than to sail first to Norway, and first take the kingdom under him.  King Sweyn was in Skanör at the time that he heard that king Magnus was dead.  He had it then in his mind to ride east into Sweden, and to give up the name of king which he had taken;  and just as he was ready to start there came a man to him who told him that king Magnus was dead, and all the Norwegian host had gone out of Denmark.  Then king Sweyn swore by God that he would never give up Denmark for any man so long as he was alive.  Then he crossed over to Zealand, and laid the realm under him wherever he came.  There he met Thorir and many other of king Magnus’ men whom he had sent together.  He took very kindly to them, and Thorir was with him a long time afterwards.”

5.            Fifty would seem to be the true reading, for Thorfinn seems to have reigned from AD 1014 till 1064, in which latter year the earl apears to have died.

6.            burden;  Heaven, “the burden of Austri,” one of the four Dwarves who bore up the heavens.

7.            Here begins the second part of the Orkneyingers’ Saga, containing an abridgement of the Life of St. Magnus.




41.        After that kindly men came between them, and seek to settle things;  so there was a peace-meeting fixed for them in Hrossey.  At that meeting a settlement was made in this way, that then the isles were shared into halves as they had been between Thorfinn and Brusi.  So things stood awhile.  Hacon was then almost always away war-roving since he had grown up.  He became then a very overbearing man, and they (Hacon and his men) were hard on those men who served under those kinmen, Erlend and his sons.  So it came about again that the settlement was broken, and they fared against each other a great force.  Havard Gunni’s son and all the other noblemen of the earls came one day between them and again brought them together and tried to bring about a settlement.  Then Erlend and his sons would not make matters up, so that Hacon was to be there in the isles.  But because it seemed to their friends that there was great risk in their quarrels, then they prayed Hacon not to let this stand in the way of peace;  but that he would rather fare away out of the isles.  They said it would be good counsel if he fared east across the sea to visit his kinsmen, both in Norway and Sweden.  And at the beseeching of his men, and also that Hacon was envious of his kinsmen there in the isles, and thought it good to learn the ways of other chiefs, then he granted them their prayer that he would fare away at once out of the isles.  Then the settlement was again made by the counsel of good men.  After that Hacon fared away out of the isles, first east to Norway, and he found there king Olaf the quiet.  This was about the end of his days.  There Hacon stayed some time.  After that he fared east to Sweden to see king Ingi, Steinkel’s son, and he made him welcome.  He found there his friends and kinsmen.  He reaped there the greatest honour from the friendships of Hacon, his mother’s father.  He had held rule there from Steinkel, the Swede king, after he had to fly the land before king Harold Sigurd’s son.  He had grown there to be the greatest friend, both of the king and the men of the land.  Another daughter’s son of earl Hacon Ivar’s son, was Hacon, who called the Northman;  he was father of Eric the wise, who was king in Denmark after king Eric the ever-memorable.  Hacon stayed in Sweden a while, and king Ingi was good to him.  But when things had gone on so a while then home-sickness came over him to seek west to the isles.  Christianity was then young in Sweden;  there were then many men who went about with witchcraft, and thought by that to become wise and knowing of many things which had not yet come to pass.  King Ingi was a thorough Christian man, and all wizards were loathsome to him.  He took great pains to root out those evil ways which had long gone hand in hand with heathendom, but the rulers of the land and the great freeholders took it ill that their bad customs were found fault with.  So it came about that the freemen chose them another king, Sweyn, the queen’s brother, who still held to his sacrifices to idols, and was called Sacrifice-Sweyn.  Before him king Ingi was forced to fly the land into West-Gothland;  but the end of their dealings was, that king Ingi took the house over Sweyn’s head and burnt him inside it.  After that he took all the land under him.  Then he still went on rooting out many bad ways.

42.       When Hacon Paul’s son was in Sweden, he had heard say that there in the land was a man who went about with wisdom and spaedom, whether he got it by witchcraft or other things.  He had a great longing to find out this man, and to know whether he could be made wise as to his future fate.  And after that he fared to that man, and found him at last dwelling in the woods.  There he used to go about to feasts, and told the freemen about their crops and other things.  But when he found that man, then he asked him he might come to power or other good luck.  The wizard asked him what manner of man he was.  He told him his name and kin, that he was the daughter’s son of Hacon Ivar’s son.  Then said the wizard:  “Why wilt thou take of me wisdom or sayings;  thou knowest that those kinsmen of thine of old have had little mind for such like men as I am,  and it may serve thy need that thou shouldest seek to know thy fate from Olaf the stout, they kinsman, the king of Norway, whom ye set all faith in.  But I rather doubt that he would not have humble-mindness enough to tell thee what thou art eager to know, or perhaps be not so mighty either as ye say he is.”  Then Hacon answers:  “I will not speak ill of him.  I think it more likely that I may not have worthiness enough to take wisdom from him, than that he may not be so powerful, that for that reason I should not take wisdom from him.  But this is why I have come to see thee, because it hath come into my mind that here neither of us will need to envy the other for the sake of matters of virtue or belief.”  That man answers:  “It likes me well that I find that thou thinkest that thou hast all trust where I am, and before that faith which ye have followed, you and your other kinsmen.  So it is, too, that with you those who lay themselves out for such things go wondrously to work.  They go about with fasts and wakes, and deem that therefore those things must be granted to them which they are eager to know.  But though they take such pains, yet are they all the less wise of what they desire to know, the more they mix themselves up with them;  but we lay ourselves under no penance, and yet we are always wise as to those things of which our friends think it worth while that they should not go on in ignorance.  Now things will so go with us two that thou shalt get this gain from me, as I see clearly that thou thinkest thyself better able to get the truth from me than from king Ingi’s priestly teachers, whom he thinks he may put all trust in.  Thou shalt come in three nights’ space, and then we two will try if I can tell thee anything which thou art eager to know.”

After that they part, and Hacon stays there in those parts, and when three nights were gone by he fared to meet the wizard.  He was then in a certain house all alone, and drew his breath heavily when he (Hacon) went in, stroked his brow with his hand, and said it cost him much ere he became wise of those things which he was to know beforehand.  Hacon says he was willing to hear his future fate.  The spaeman began to say:  “If thou wilt know thy fate, then is it long to tell about, for that it is great and because from thy life and labour very great tidings will come to pass;  and it is my belief that thou wilt come to be sole chief over the Orkneys at last, but it may be that thou wilt think it long to wait.  I trow, also, that thy offspring will rule there.  But from thy western voyage, which thou farest next of all to the Orkneys, very great tidings will come about when those things are fulfilled which will spring from it.  Thou wilt also in thy days let that wickedness be done which thou must either make atonement for or not to that God in whom thou believest.  But thy footsteps lie further out into the world than I can get to see, but still I think that thou wilt bring back thy bones here to the northern half of the world.  Now have I told thee those things that I can at this time, and now say how thou wilt like thy day’s work.”  Hacon answers:  “A great story is this thou tellest, if it be sooth, but I think it will go better with my lot than thou sayest.  May be, too, that thou has not seen all this of a truth.”  The spaeman bade him believe it or not as he chose, but said that it would come to pass.

43.       After that Hacon went away to see king Ingi, and stayed with him a short time ere he set his heart on faring to the western lands.  Then he took leave of the king to go away.  Hacon fared first to Norway to see his kinsman king Magnus, and he made him welcome.  Then he learnt those tidings from the Orkneys, that earl Erlend and his sons had it almost all their own way there, and had won very many friends, but Paul his father had little or nothing to do with ruling the land.  He thought, too, he made out from those men who came from the west, and in whose words he could put most faith, that the Orkneyingers would long very little for his coming thither west;  for they had already good peace and quietness, but feared if Hacon came west that strife and uproar would arise from him.  But when Hacon thought of this to himself, then he thought it not unlikely that those kinsmen would hold the realm from him, but let it not be without risk to him if he came thither west without a great force.  So he took that counsel to seek to king Magnus that he would bring him to power in the Orkneys.

This was after that king Magnus had made them put to death Steigar-Thorir and Egil, and freed the land from all strife.  Hacon was a wise man, and he thought he could see by king Magnus’ talk when they spoke together, that the king would be high-minded and eager to attack the realms of other chiefs.  Hacon fell to saying this before the king, that it would be a brave deed for a prince to have out the levy and harry west across the sea, and lay the isles under him, as Harold fair-hair did.  Says, too, if he could get rule in the Southern isles, it would be handy to harry thence in Ireland and Scotland;  and if he put the western lands under him, that thence it would be good to strive with the strength of the Northmen against the Englishmen, “and so avenge Harold Sigurd’s son, thy father’s father.”  But when they spoke of this, it was found that this jumped well with the king’s temper;  he said it was well and bravely spoken, and near his mind.  “But that thou shalt keep in mind Hacon,” says the king, “if I were to do this after thy words and egging on, to fare with a host west over the sea, that it must not come on thee unawares, though I bore on with a bold claim to those realms which lie away there west, and make in that no distinction of men.”  But when Hacon heard this utterance, he grew cold and said very little more about it, and doubted for what these words could be spoken.  He left off after that egging on the king to any voyage;  but then little was needed, for after this speech the king sent messengers over all his realm that the levy should be out.  He laid it bare before all the people that he meant to hold on with that host west over the sea, whatever tidings might happen afterwards in his voyages.  So men made ready for this voyage all over the land.  King Magnus had with him his son on this voyage, eight winters old, whose name was Sigurd;  he was much of a man for his years.

44.       When those brothers Paul and Erlend ruled over the Orkneys, king Magnus, the son of Olaf the quiet, came from the east out of Norway.  He had a mighty host, and many liegemen followed him.  Vidkun Johnson, Sigurd Hranis’ son, Sark out of Sogn, Dag Eilif’s son, Skopti of Gizki, Œgmund, Finn, and Thord;  Eyvind elbow the king’s marshal.  There was also Kali of Agdir Seabear’s son, the son of Thorleif the wise, whom Hallfred maimed, and Kol his son.  Kali was a very wise man, and dear to the king, and a good rhymer.  Now when king Magnus came to the Orkneys, then he seized the earls Paul and Erlend, and sent them east to Norway, but set up his son Sigurd over the isles, and gave him councillors.   King Magnus fared to the Southern isles and the earls’ sons, Magnus and Erling, sons of earl Erlend, and Hacon, Paul’s son, went along with him.  But when king Magnus came into the isles, he fell to harrying first in the Lewes, and won them;  and in that voyage he won all the Southern isles, and took captive Lögman, the son of Gudred, the king of the Southern isles.  Thence he fared south under Bretland (Wales), and had a great battle in Anglesey-sound with two British earls, Hugh the stout and Hugh the proud.  They were brothers of Costnami, who was then king in Ireland in Ulster.  And when men were getting out their weapons and busking themselves for the fight, Magnus, Erlend’s son, sate him down aft in the forecastle, and did not arm himself.  The king asked why he sate.  He said he had no quarrel with any man there;  “that’s why I will not fight.”  The king said:  “Get thee away down under the thwarts, and don’t lie here before men’s feet, if thou darest not to fight, for I do not think that faith drives thee to this.”  Magnus took a psalter, and sung while the battle lasted, but did not shield himself.  This battle was both hard and long, and both spears were thrown and blows struck;  it was long so that it could not be seen between them which way the fight would turn.  King Magnus shot with a crossbow, and another man from Helgeland by his side.  Hugh the proud fought most sturdily;  he was so clad and byrnied that there was no bare spot on him save the eyes.  King Magnus bade the man from Helgeland that they should both shoot at him at once, and so they did, and one arrow struck him on his nose-guard, but the other went in at the eye, and flew afterwards through the head.  That shot was reckoned to the king.

45.       There fell Hugh the proud.  After that the British fled and had lost many men;  but king Magnus had won a great victory, but had yet lost many good men, and very many were wounded.  So this was made about it:

“Bolts on byrnies then came rattling,

Might and main the monarch fought,

Agdir’s ruler bent his crossbow,

Blood on helmets there was sprinkled:

Bowstrings’ hail on mail came flying,

Men fell fast, and Hordas’ king,

Seeking land with onslaught hard,

Dealt his deathblow to the earl.”

         Then king Magnus made Anglesea his own as far south as ever the kings of Norway of old had ever owned it.  Anglesea is a trithing of Bretland (Wales).  Kali Seabear’s son had got many wounds in Anglesea sound, though none of them at once mortal.  Afterwards king Magnus turned back by the south course along Scotland.

         King Magnus had made Magnus Erlend’s son his page, and he served always at the king’s board.  But after the battle in Anglesey-sound king Magnus took a great dislike to him.  He said he had behaved like a coward.  It fell on a night when king Magnus lay off Scotland that Magnus Erlend’s son ran away from king Magnus’ ship when he thought he had the best chance of flying from the king.  He jumped overboard and swam to land, and made up his berth so that it seemed as if a man lay there.  But when he came to land he ran into the woods, and was in his under-clothing.  He struck his foot, and hurt himself much, as he was bare-foot, and so he could walk no longer at that time.  He came to a great tree, and climbed up there into the branches, and there bound up his foot, and hid himself there in the branches for some time.  But in the morning when men went to meat on board the king’s ship, the king asked where Magnus Erlend’s son was.  He was told that he was asleep in his berth.  The king bade them wake him, and said something else than sleep must have come over him when he lay longer than other men.  But when they came to his place, then he was missing.  Then the king bade them search for him and let loose the slot hounds.  But when the hounds were loose, they came at once on his track, and ran off to the wood, and came to that tree in which Magnus was up.  Then one hound ran round and round the oak and bayed.  Magnus had a stick in his hand, and threw it at the hound, and hit him on the side.  The hound laid his tail between his legs and ran down to the ships, and the others after it.  The king’s men could not find Magnus.  He lay hid for a while in the wood, and was next heard of in the court of Malcolm the king of Scots, and stayed there a while, but sometimes he was in Bretland with a certain bishop.  He was sometimes in England, or in other places with his friends, but he did not come back to the Orkneys while king Magnus lived.

         King Magnus held on his course from the south along Scotland, and then came to meet him messengers from Malcolm the king of Scots, and offered him peace.  They said thus that the king of Scots would give up to him all those isles that lie to the west of Scotland, between which and the mainland he could sail in a ship with a fixed rudder.  But when king Magnus ran in from the south to Cantire, he let them drag a cutter over the neck of Cantire, he held the tiller, and so took as his own all Cantire.  That is better than the best isle in the Southern isles save Man.  It goes from the west of Scotland, and has a narrow neck of land at the top of it, so that there ships are very often drawn over.  King Magnus held on thence into the Southern isles, but sent his men into Scotland’s firths;  they were to row in hugging the land on one side, and out hugging it on the other, and so King Magnus claimed as his own all the isles to the west of Scotland.  Then the king gave it out that he would sit that winter in the Southern isles, but gave leave to those men who he thought had most need of it to fare home.  But when the levies knew that, they became home-sick, and grumbled badly about their being so long away.  The king then had a talk with his men and councillors.  he went and looked at the wounds of his men.  Then the king went to see Kali Seabear’s son and asked after his wounds.  Kali said they healed very little, and let him know that he could not tell how they would turn out.  The king asked counsel of him.  Kali asked:  “Is it not so king that now your friends steal away from you.”  The king made as though he thought that were not so.  Kali bade him call them under arms, and so muster his men.  The king did so, and then missed many men.  And when the king told this to Kali, then Kali chaunted this:

                        “How thy wary chiefs reward thee

                        For those precious gifts of thine?

                        West the vessel’s sides are shaking,

                        Try our trustiness, O king!”

         Then the king answers:

                        “Ill have I my boons bestowed,

                        Boons that brighten face of man,

                        Buoyant keel to climb the billow,

                        Now must I command in vain.”

         After this the king kept watch and ward if men ran from him, and let none .......... (1)  When king Magnus was in the Southern isles, then he got as a bride for his son Sigurd, Bjadmunja, daughter of Moorkiartan, Thialbi’s son, the Irish king of Connaught.  Sigurd was then nine winters old and the maiden five.  This winter Kali Seabear’s son breathed his last of his wounds.  In Anglesey-sound had fallen Sigurd skewer, Kali’s kinsman.  He was liegeman in Agdir.

         Next spring early king Magnus fared away from the Southern isles.  He fared first to the Orkneys.  There he heard from the east across the sea of the death of the earls, and how Erlend had died in Nidaros, and was buried there, and Paul in Bergen.  In the spring in the Orkneys king Magnus gave away Gunnhilda, the daughter of earl Erlend, to Kol Kali’s son, as an atonement for the loss of his father, and some estates in the Orkneys went with her as her dowry, and a homestead in Paplay.  Of Erling, the son of earl Erlend, some men say that he had fallen in Anglesey sound, but Snorri Sturla’s son says he has fallen in Ulster with king Magnus.  Kol Kali’s son became king Magnus’ liegeman, and fared east into Norway with the king, and home to Agdir with his wife, and settled down on his farms.  They, Kol and Gunnhilda, had two children;  their son’s name was Kali, but their daughter’s name was Ingirid.  they were both of the greatest promise, and reared up with much love.

46.       When king Magnus had ruled the land nine winters, he fared away out of the land west across the sea and harried in Ireland, and was the winter in Connaught.  But the summer after he fell in Ulster on Bartholomew’s day.  But when king Sigurd in the Orkneys heard of his father’s fall, he fared at once to Norway, and was there taken to be king with his brothers Eystein and Olaf.  Sigurd left behind him over the western sea the daughter of the Irish king.  One winter or two after the fall of king Magnus, Hacon Paul’s son came from the west across the sea, and the kings gave him the title of earl and such power, as was due to his birth.  Then he fared west across the sea and took the realm under him in the Orkneys;  he had always followed king Magnus while he lived.  He was with him in his warfare east in Gothland, as is said in that lay which was made on Hacon Paul’s son.

47.        When earl Hacon had taken the rule in the Orkneys, Magnus earl Erlend’s son came down from Scotland and asked to take his father’s heritage.  That pleased the freemen well, for he had very many friends.  He had there many kinsmen and connexions who were glad to raise him to power.  A worthy man named Sigurd then had his mother to wife;  their son was Hacon churl;  they kept house in Paplay.  When earl Hacon heard that earl Magnus was come into the isles, he drew force to himself, and would not give up the Orkneys or share that realm which he had there.  After that friends came between them and tried to settle matters.  So it came about that they were made friends on those terms, that Hacon gave up half the realm if that were the award of the kings of Norway, and with that this strife was stayed.  Magnus fared straightway in the spring to Norway to find king Eystein, for Sigurd had then fared out abroad to Jerusalem.  King Eystein made him a hearty welcome, and gave him up his father's inheritance, half the Orkneys and the title of earl.  Earl Magnus fared west over the sea to take up his power, and his kinsmen and friends and all the people were glad at that;  then the kinship of Hacon and Magnus throve well when friends took part in it.  There was then peace and plenty in the Orkneys so long as their friendship lasted.

48.       Saint Magnus the isle earl was the most peerless of men, tall of growth, manly, and lively of look, virtuous in his ways, fortunate in fight, a sage in wit, ready-tongued and lordly-minded, lavish of money and high-spirited, quick of counsel and more beloved of his friends than any man;  blithe and of kind speech to wise and good men, but hard and unsparing against robbers and sea-rovers;  he let many men be slain who harried the freemen and landfolk;  he made murderers and thieves be taken, and visited as well on the powerful as on the weak robberies and thieveries and all ill deeds.  He was no favourer of his friends in his judgments, for he valued more godly justice than the distinctions of rank.  He was open-handed to chiefs and powerful men, but still he showed most care for poor men.  In all things he kept straitly God’s commandments, and kept down his body in many things which in his praiseworthy life where bright before God, but hidden before men.  He then showed his purpose when he asked the hand of a maiden of the most noble race of Scotland, and drank the bridal feast with her;  he lived ten years with her so that he fulfilled neither of their lusts, but was pure and spotless of all carnal sins.  And when he felt temptation coming over him, then he went into cold water, and asked support of God for himself.  Many were those other things and noble virtues which he showed to God himself, but hid from men.

49.       Those kinsmen Magnus and Hacon held the wardship of the land for some while, so that they were well agreed.  So it is said in that song which is made of them, that they fought against that chief whose name was Duffnjal, and who was one step further off than the earl’s brother’s son, (2) and he fell before them.  Thorbjorn was the name of a noble man whom they put to death in Burra-firth in Shetland;  it is the story of many men that they took the house over his head and burnt him inside it.  There are more tidings on which songs have been made which show that they must have been both together, though here it is not fully told about them.  But when those kinsmen had ruled the land some time, then again happened, what often and always can happen, that many ill-willing men set about spoiling their kinship.  Then unlucky men gathered more about Hacon, for that he was very envious of the friendships and lordliness of his kinsman Magnus.

50.       Two men are they who are named, who were with earl Hacon, and who were the worst of all the tale-bearers between those kinsmen, Sigurd and Sighvat sock.  This slander came so far with the gossip of wicked men, that those kinsmen again gathered forces together, and each earl fared against the other with a great company.  Then both of them held on to Hrossey, where the place of meeting of those Orkneyingers was.  But when they came there, then each drew up his men in array, and they made them ready to battle.  There were then the earls and all the great men, and there too were many friends of both who did all they could to set them at one again.  Many then came between them with manliness and goodwill.  This meeting was in Lent, a little before Palm Sunday.  But because many men of their well-wishers took a share in clearing up these difficulties between them, but would stand by neither to do harm to the other, then they bound their agreement with oaths and handsels. (3)  And when some time had gone by after that, then earl Hacon, with falsehood and fair words, settled with the blessed earl Magnus to meet him on a certain day;  so that their kinship and steadfast new-made peace should not be turned aside or set at naught.  This meeting for a steadfast peace and thorough atonement between them was to be in Easter week that spring on Egil’s isle.  This pleased earl Magnus well, being, as he was, a thoroughly whole-hearted man, far from all doubt, guile, or greed;  and each of them was to have two ships, and each just as many men;  this both swore, to hold and keep those terms of peace which the wisest men made up their minds to declare between them.  But when Eastertide was gone by, each made him ready for this meeting.  Earl Magnus summoned to him all those men whom he knew to be kindest-hearted and likeliest to do a good turn to both those kinsmen.  He had two longships and just as many men as was said.  And when he was ready he held on his course to Egil’s isle.  And as they were rowing in calm over the smooth sea, there rose a billow against the ship which the earl steered and fell on the ship just where the earl sate.  The earl’s men wondered much at this token, that the billow fell on them in a calm where no man had ever known it to fall before, and where the water under was deep.  Then the earl said:  “It is not strange that ye wonder at this, but my thought is, that this is a foreboding of my life’s end;  may be that may happen which was before spaed about earl Hacon.  We should so make up our minds about our undertaking, that I guess my kinsman Hacon must not mean to deal fairly by us at this meeting.”  The earl’s men were afraid at these words, when he said he had so short hope as to his life’s end, and bade him take heed for his life, and not fare farther trusting in earl Hacon.  Earl Magnus answers:  “We shall fare on still, and may all God’s will be done as to our voyage.”



1.            The end of this sentence is illegible in the MS.

2.            That is, he was their second cousin.

3.            The Danish Translation adds “and the wisest men were to decide between them.”



51.        Now it must be told about earl Hacon, that he summoned to him a great company, and has many warships, and all manned and trimmed as though they were to run out to battle.  And when the force came together, the earl makes it clear to the men that he meant at that meeting so to settle matters between himself and earl Magnus, that they should not both of them be over the Orkneys.  Many of his men showed themselves well pleased at this purpose, and added many fearful words;  and they, Sigurd and Sighvat sock, were among the worst in their utterance.  Then men began to row hard, and they fared furiously.  Havard Gunni’s son was on board the earl’s ship, a friend and counsellor of the earls’, and a fast friend to both alike.  Hacon had hidden from him this bad counsel, which Havard would surely not join in.  And when he knew the earl was so steadfast in this bad counsel, then he jumped from the earl’s ship and took to swimming, and swam to an isle where no man dwelt.  Earl Magnus came first to Egil’s isle with his company, and when they saw Hacon coming, they knew that treachery must be meant.  Earl Magnus then betook himself up on the isle with his men, and went to the church to pray, and was there that night, but his men offered to defend him.  The earl answers:  “I will not lay your life in risk for me, and if peace is not to be made between us two kinsmen, then be it as God wills.”  Then his men thought that what he had said when the billow fell on them was coming true.  Now for that he felt sure as to the hours of his life beforehand, whether it was rather from his shrewdness or of godly foreshadowing, then he would not fly nor fare far from the meeting of his foes. (1)  He prayed earnestly, and let a mass be sung to him.

52.       Hacon and his men jumped up in the morning and ran first to the church, and ransacked it, and did not find the earl.  He had gone another way on the isle with two men into a certain hiding place.  And when the saint earl Magnus saw that they sought for him, then he calls out to them, and says where he was;  he bade them look nowhere else for him.  And when Hacon saw him, then they ran thither with shouts and crash of arms.  Earl Magnus was then at his prayers when they came to him, and when he had ended his prayers, then he signed himself (with the cross), and said to earl Hacon, with steadfast heart:  “Thou didst not well, kinsman, when thou wentest back on thy oaths, and it is much to be hoped that thou doest this more from others badness than thine own.  Now will I offer thee three choices, that thou doest some one of these rather than break thy oaths and let me be slain guiltless.”  Hacon’s men asked what offer he made.  “That is the first, that I will go south to Rome, or out far as Jerusalem, and visit holy places, and have two ships with me out of the land with what we need to have, and so make atonement for both of our souls.  This I will swear, never to come back to the Orkneys.”  To this they said “Nay” at once.  Then earl Magnus spoke:  “Now seeing that my life is in your power, and that I have in many things made myself an outlaw before Almighty God, then send thou me up into Scotland to some of both our friends, and let me be there kept in ward, and two men with me as a pastime.  Take thou care then that I may never be able to get out of that wardship.”  To this they said “Nay” at once.  Magnus spoke:  “One choice is still behind, which I will offer thee, and God knows that I look more to your soul than to my life;  but still it better beseems thee than to take away my life.  Let me be maimed in my limbs as thou pleasest, or pluck out my eyes, and set me in a dark dungeon.”  Then earl Hacon spoke:  “This settlement I am ready to take, nor do I ask anything farther.”  Then the chiefs sprang up and said to earl Hacon:  “We will slay now either of you twain, and ye two shall not both from this day forth rule the lands.”  Then answers earl Hacon:  “Slay ye him rather, for I will rather rule the realm and lands than die so suddenly.”  So says Holdbodi, a truthful freeman from the Southern isles, of the parley they had.  he was then with Magnus, and another man with him, when they took him captive.

53.       So glad was the worthy earl Magnus as though he were bidden to a feast;  he neither spoke with hate nor words of wrath.  And after this talk he fell to prayer, and hid his face in the palms of his hands, and shed out many tears before God’s eyesight.  When earl Magnus the saint was done to death, Hacon bade Ofeig his banner-bearer to slay the earl, but he said “Nay” with the greatest wrath.  Then he forced Lifolf his cook to kill Magnus, but he began to weep aloud.  “Thou shalt not weep for this,” said the earl, “for that there is fame in doing such deeds;  be steadfast in thy heart, for thou shalt have my clothes, as is the wont and law of men of old (2) and thy will, and he who forces thee misdoes more than thou.”  But when the earl had said this, he threw off his kirtle and gave it to Lifolf.  After that he begged leave to say his prayers, and that was granted him.  He fell to earth, and gave himself over to God, and brought himself as an offering to him.  He not only prayed for himself or his friends, but rather there and then for his foes and banemen, and forgave them with all his heart what they had misdone towards him, and confessed his own misdeeds to God, and prayed that they might be washed off him by the outshedding of his blood, and commended his soul into God’s hand, and prayed that God’s angels would come to meet his soul, and bear it into the rest of Paradise.  Some men say that he took the Lord’s Body when the mass was sung to him.  When the friend of God was led out to slaughter, he spoke to Lifolf:  “Stand thou before me, and hew me on my head a great wound, for it beseems not to chop off chiefs’ heads like thieves’;  strengthen thyself, wretched man, for I have prayed for thee to God that he may have mercy on thee.”  After that he signed himself (with the cross), and bowed himself to the stroke.  And his spirit passed to heaven.

54.       That spot was before mossy and stony.  But in a little after the worthiness of earl Magnus before God was so bright that there sprung up a green sward where he was slain, and God showed that, that he was slain for righteousness’ sake, and inherited the fairness and greenness of Paradise, which is called the earth of living men.  Earl Hacon did not allow the earl to be borne to the church.  The death-day of earl Magnus is two nights after Tiburce mass.  He had then been earl over the Orkneys seven winters, he and Hacon both together.  There had then passed since the fall of king Olaf seventy four winters.  Sigurd and Eystein and Olaf were the kings over Norway.  There had been passed since the birth of Christ one thousand and ninety and one winters. (3)

55.       After the meeting, Thora, the mother of earl Magnus, had bidden both earls to a feast, (4) and now came earl Hacon to the feast after the slaying of earl Magnus the saint.  Thora went about waiting on the guests herself, and bore drink to the earl and his men, those who had been at the slaying of her son.  And when the drink took hold of the earl, then Thora went before him and said:  “Now art thou come hither alone, lord, but I looked for you both;  wilt thou now gladden me before the witness of God and men;  be now to me in a son’s stead, and I will be to thee in a mother’s stead;  I much need now thy pity, and that thou givest me leave that my son may be borne to church;  be now so with me in my prayers as thou wouldest wish God to be with thee at doomsday.”  The earl holds his peace and thinks over the matter, and was sorry for those ill deeds when she begged so meekly with tears that she might have her way about bearing her son to church.  He looked at her, and dropped tears, and said to her:  “Bury thy son where it pleases thee.”  After that earl Magnus was borne to Hrossey, and buried at that Christchurch (in Birsay) which earl Thorfinn made them make.  Straightway after that a heavenly light was often seen shining over his grave.  Afterwards men began to call upon him often, if they were placed in danger, and their matter was granted at once as they prayed.  In the same way a heavenly fragrance was often perceived at his grave, and sick men got back their health thence.  Then next men made journeys thither both from the Orkneys and Shetland, who were in weak health, and watched at the tomb of earl Magnus the saint, and got healing for their ailments.  But yet men did not dare to spread this abroad while earl Hacon lived.   It is also so said, that those men who were most in the treachery against earl Magnus the saint, most of them died ill and harrowing deaths.  At that time William was bishop in the Orkneys;  he was the first bishop there.   The bishop’s seat was then at Christchurch in Birsay.  William was bishop sixty-six years.  He doubted long the holiness of earl Magnus. (5)  After the slaying of earl Magnus, Hacon took all the realm under him in the Orkneys;  he then made all men take an oath to him who had before served earl Magnus;  then he became a great chief, and laid heavy burdens on the friends of earl Magnus, whom he thought had been most against him in their quarrels.  But some winters after, Hacon began his voyage out of the land, and fared south to Rome;  in that journey he fared out to Jerusalem, thence he sought the halidoms, and bathed in the river Jordan, as is palmers’ wont.  After that he turned back to his own land, and took under him the realm in the Orkneys.  He then became a good ruler, and kept his realm well at peace.  Then he set up in the Orkneys new laws, which pleased the freemen much better than those that had been before.  With such things his friendships began to grow;  and so it came about that the Orkneyingers cared for nothing else than to have Hacon for their chief, and his offspring after him.

56.       At that time, when earl Hacon had rule in the Orkneys, that man dwelt at the Dale in Caithness whose name was Moddan, a man of rank and very wealthy;  his daughters were these, Helga and Frakok and Thorleif.  Helga, Moddan’s daughter, was the concubine of earl Hacon, and their son was Harold, who was called the smooth-tongued, but their daughter was Ingibjorg, whom Olaf bitling (6) the Southern isle king had to wife, and Margaret was also their daughter.  Frakok, Moddan’s daughter, was given away to that man in Sutherland whose name was Ljot the dastard, and their daughter was Steinvor the stout, whom Thorljot in Rackwick had to wife.  Their sons were Oliver the unruly and Magnus, and Orm, and Moddan and Eindrid;  and Audhild (was their daughter).  Another daughter of Frakok was Gudrun, whom Thorstein the freeman, dribblemouth, had to wife;  their son was Thorbjorn the clerk.  Thorleif, Moddans’ daughter, had also a daughter whose name was Gunnhilda.  (Audhild?) Earl Hacon had also another son, whose name was Paul, and was called hold-tongue;  he was gloomy, but had many friends.  Between those brothers there was never much love lost when they grew up.  Earl Hacon Paul’s son was smitten to death by sickness there in the isles, and men thought that great scathe, for at the end of his days there was good peace, but the freemen misdoubted much whether those brothers, Paul and Harold, would be of one mind.

57.        After the death of earl Hacon, his sons took the rule, and they were soon of two minds, and shared the realm into halves.  There soon arose great divisions among the great men, and the chieftains threw themselves very much into two sides.  Earl Harold held Caithness from the Scot-king, and he was almost always there, but sometimes he was up in Scotland, for he had there many kinsmen and friends.  When earl Harold was seated in Sutherland, there came to him that man whose name was Sigurd, who was said to be the son of Ethelbert the priest;  he was called snap-deacon;  he came down then from Scotland, and had been with David the Scot-king, and he had laid upon him great honours.  Earl Harold gave him a very hearty welcome.  Sigurd fared out to the Orkneys with earl Harold, and so did Frakok, Moddan’s daughter, for that Ljot the dastard, her husband was then dead.  She and her sister Helga had then a great share in ruling the land with earl Harold.  Sigurd snap was in great love with all of them.  Then Audhild the daughter of Thorleif, Moddan’s daughter, followed him as his leman, and their daughter was Ingigerd, whom Hacon claw afterwards had to wife.  Eric the straight had before had Audhild to wife;  their son was Eric stay-brails.  When they, Sigurd and Frakok, came into the isles, a great sundering of followers arose, and each of the earls gather as many of his friends about him as he could.  These were dearest to earl Paul, Sigurd of Westness, who had to wife Ingibjorg the honourable, the earl’s kinswoman, and Thorkel Summerled’s son, who was always with earl Paul, and was called fosterer.  He was near of kin to Magnus the saint, and was more beloved of his friends than any man.  Now the friends of earl Harold deemed that Thorkell would be the last man to spare those brothers strife for the sake of those griefs which he had suffered from earl Hacon their father.  So it came about at last that earl Harold and Sigurd snap fell on Thorkell fosterer and slew him.  But when earl Paul heard that, he took the tidings very ill, and gathered force together to him.  But then the news came at once to earl Harold, and he, too, drew force to him.  But when the friends of both of them were aware of this, they came up and tried to settle matters, and then all men had a share in setting them at one again.  Earl Paul was so wrath that he would hear of no terms, unless all those men were sent away who had been at the slaying.  But inasmuch as it seemed to the freemen that great harm would come of their strife, then all men threw in their word that they should make friends.  So it came about that Sigurd was sent away out of the isles, and those other men whom earl Paul thought were most guilty of the deed.  Earl Harold paid up the fines that followed on Thorkell’s slaying.  It was also said at this peace-making that the kinship of those brothers, Paul and Harold, should be bettered, and they were both to be together at Yule and all the other greatest high-days.  Sigurd snap fared away out of the Orkneys, and up into Scotland, and dwelt there awhile with Malcolm the Scot-king in good cheer, and he was there thought to be the doughtiest man in all manly feats.  He stayed for a time in Scotland ere he fared out to Jewry.

58.       It fell out once in the days of those brothers, earl Harold and earl Paul, that they were to keep the Yule feast at Orfir, in the house of earl Harold, and he was to find the fare for both of them.  He was busy there working hard in getting ready for the feast.  Those sisters were there, Frakok and Helga, the earl’s mother, and they were sitting in the little room at their sewing.  Then earl Harold went into the room, but those sisters sat on the cross-bench, and a new-sewn linen shirt lay between them, white as driven snow.  The earl took up the shirt and saw that it was thickly stitched with gold.  He asked:  “Who owns this precious thing?”  Frakok says:  “’Tis meant for thy brother Paul.”  The earl says:  “Why work ye so hard at clothes for him?  Ye do not take as much pains in making me clothes.”  The earl was just risen up from his bed, and was only in a shirt and linen breeks, and had cast a cloak over his shoulders.  He threw off the cloak and unfolded the linen shirt.  His mother caught at it, and bade him not be envious though his brother had good clothes.  The earl jerked it out of her hand, and got ready to put it on.  Then they threw off their wimples and tore their hair, (7)  and said, his life lay on it if he put on the shirt.  They both then wept sore.  The earl put it on nevertheless, and let it fall down over him.  But as soon as ever the cloth clung about his body, a shiver came over his skin, and straightway after that followed great pain.  And from that the earl took to his bed, and lay but a short while ere he breathed his last.  That his friends thought great scathe.  But at once after the death of earl Harold, earl Paul his brother took all the realm under him with the consent of all the freemen in the Orkneys.  Earl Paul reckoned as if Frakok and her sister had meant that precious thing for him which earl Harold had put on, and for that sake he would not have them live there in the isles.  Then they fared away with all their kith and kin, first to Caithness, and thence up into Sutherland, to those homesteads which Frakok owned there.  There was reared up with her Erlend son of Harold the smoothed-tongued, while he was a youngster.  There, too, was reared up Oliver the unruly, the son of Thorljot of Rackwick, and of Steinvor Frakok’s daughter.  Oliver was the tallest of men, and of very great strength, and wantonly quarrelsome, and a great manslayer;  there too was reared up Thorbjorn the clerk, son of Thorstein the freeman and Gudrun Frakok’s daughter.  There, too was reared up Margaret, daughter of earl Hacon and Helga Moddan’s daughter, and Eric staybrails, Frakok’s kinsman.  These men were all of great family and great for their own sakes, and they all thought they had a great claim in the Orkneys to those realms which their kinsman earl Harold had owned.  The brothers of Frakok were Angus of the open-hand, and earl Otter in Thurso;  he was a man of birth and rank.

59.       Then Earl Paul ruled the Orkneys, and had very many friends.  He was a man of few words, and no speaker at the Things.  He let many other men rule the land with him.  The earl was courteous and kind to all the land-folk, liberal of money, and spared nothing to his friends.  He was not fond of war, and sate much in quiet.  There were then in the Orkneys many men of rank who were come from the stock of the earls.  There then dwelt at Westness, in Rowsay, a man of rank, whose name was Sigurd;  he had to wife Ingibjorg the honourable, but her mother’s name was Herbjorg, daughter of earl Paul Thorfinn’s son.  Their sons were these, Brynjulf and Hacon pike.  They were all chieftains of earl Paul.  The sons of Havard Gunni’s son, were also friends of earl Paul, Magnus, and Hacon claw, and Thorstein and Dufnjal.  Their mother was Bergljot, but her mother was Ragnhilda, daughter of earl Paul. (8)  Erling was the name of a man;  he dwelt at Tankarnes, in Hrossey;  he had four sons, all of them proper men.  Olaf was the name of a man, and he was Hrolf’s son, who dwelt in Gairsay;  he had another house at Duncansby in Caithness.  Olaf was a man of the greatest strength and power, and had great honours given him by earl Paul.  Asleif was the name of his wife.  She was wise, and of great family, and was much thought of for her own sake.  Waltheof was the name of one of their sons, Sweyn was another, a third Gunni;  all these were tall and proper men.  Their sister’s name was ingigerd.  Sigurd earl’s-father-in-law had to wife Thora, the mother of Magnus the saint;  their son was Hacon churl;  that father and son were mighty chiefs.  In Rinansey (9) dwelt that woman whose name was Ragna, a worthy housewife.  Her son’s name was Thorstein, a fine man of good parts.  Kugi was the name of a householder in Westray, a wise man and wealthy, at Rapness.  Helgi was the name of a householder, a man of worth and power, who lived there in Westray, in a thorpe that was then there.  Thorkel flat was the name of a householder in Westray, cross-grained and high and mighty;  Thorstein and Haflidi were his sons;  they had not many friends.  In Swanay in the Pentland firth, dwelt Grim, a man of small means;  his sons were these, Asbjorn and Margad, the briskest of men.  In the Fair Isle dwelt that man whose name was Dagfinn.  Thorstein was the name of a man who dwelt at Flydruness in Hrossey;  his sons were Asbjorn crook-eye and Blian;  they were all unfriendly cross-grained men.  Jaddvor, she was the bastard daughter of earl Erlend, born of a thrall, dwelt at Knarstead, and her son Borgar with her;  they were not much beloved.  John wing dwelt in Hoy at the Upland.  Richard his brother dwelt at the Brink in Stronsay;  they were grand men, and kinsmen of Olaf Hrolf’s son.  Grimkel was the name of a man who dwelt at Gletness.  These were all friends of earl Paul, and all the people along with them.  These men all come into the story afterwards. --- William was then bishop of the Orkneys, (10) and the bishop’s seat was at Christchurch in Birsay.  There then were wrought ever and anon great tokens from the holiness of earl Magnus when men watched over his tomb, but little stir was made about it because of the rule of earl Paul.  Bishop William too took the edge off of what men said about the tokens of earl Magnus, and said it was great misbelief to go about with such things.  Now we will first of all let the story stop awhile and rather say something of those glorious tokens which God hath granted for the worth’s sake of earl Magnus the saint.

60.       Bergfinn Skati’s son was the name of a householder in Shetland, and he was blind;  he brought two cripples south into the Orkneys;  the name of the one was Sigurd and the other’s  Thorbjorn;  they all watched over the tomb of earl Magnus.  To all of them earl Magnus the saint appeared, and gave them their health with God;  and Bergfinn became so clear-sighted that he saw and knew his right hand from his left, but both the others stood straight up.  But some time after, on the eve of the death day of earl Magnus, four and twenty men in weak health watched over the tomb, and all got cured.  Then many men craved that of the bishop, that he would let earl Paul be spoken to, that he would give leave that the tomb should be searched and the halidom (the relics) of earl Magnus taken up.  The bishop took that heavily when it was said.  It happened one summer that bishop William fared east to Norway, and when he fared back he was late boun, and came to Shetland in autumn, a little before winter set in.  Then foul weather arose and mighty storms, but the bishop could not bear to spend his time there, and was eager to get home.  After that gales burst upon them, and the winter was come.  Then the captain spoke to the bishop, and asked if he would vow for a fair wind not to say anything against taking up the halidom of earl Magnus;  the bishop said yea to that, if the weather bettered so that he might sing mass at home on the second Sunday at his bishop’s seat.  And as soon as ever that vow was fast made, the weather began to change, and came round to their mind, and they had a fair wing to the Orkneys, and such a quick one that the bishop sung mass at home the next Sunday.  But even when such things were granted to him, still he would not for all that believe in the holiness of earl Magnus.  Earl Paul too laid his displeasure on all those men who spread such stories about.  This event happened in Christchurch at Birsay one day that the bishop went into the church, and was at his prayers;  he was all alone in the church, but when he stood up and meant to go away, then he became blind, and could not find his way to the doors;  he went about a long time seeking if he might get away.  Then great fear fell upon him, and with that he fared to the tomb of earl Magnus, and there prayed with tears, and vowed that he would take up the halidom of earl Magnus, whether earl Paul liked it well or ill.  And after that he got back his sight there over the tomb.  After that the bishop sent to fetch to him all the most noble men in the Orkneys, and made it plain to them that he was ready then to search the tomb of earl Magnus.  And when it was dug into, the coffin was taken out of the ground;  the bishop then let the bones be washed, and they were of a right fair hue.  He let them take a knuckle-bone and proves it thrice in hallowed fire, and it burnt not, but rather became of a hue as though it were gold.  It is the story of some men that it had then run into the shape of a cross.  Then many tokens were there wrought at the halidom of earl Magnus.  Then the body was laid in a shrine and set over the altar.  That was on St. Lucia’s day. (11)  He had then lain in the mould twenty-one winters.  Then it was taken as law that each day should be kept holy, --- the day that he was taken up and the day of his death.  The halidom of earl Magnus was kept there for some time. --- It happened once that a man dreamed a dream in Westray, whose name was Gunni, a good yeoman, that Magnus the saint came to him and said to him:  “This shalt thou say to bishop William, that my will is to fare away from Birsay and east to Kirkwall, and I trow that Almighty God will grant me of his mercy that those men shall be healed of their ailments who seek thither past hope of cure with right faith.  This dream shalt thou boldly tell.”  But when Gunni awoke it came all at once into his mind that he must not tell the dream, for that he was afraid that earl Paul would lay his displeasure on him.  But the next night after earl Magnus showed himself to him when he slumbered;  he was then very wrath (and said):  “Thou shalt fare to Birsay and tell thy dream when most men are by;  but if thou farest not, thou shalt have punishment for it in this world and more in the other world."” Then Gunni woke and was full of fear, and fared at once until he came to Birsay to tell his dream before all the people at mass;  and earl Paul was there and many other mighty men.  Then many begged that the bishop would set about it and bear the halidom east to Kirkwall as the earl had revealed.  Earl Paul held his peace as though he had water in his mouth, and turned as red as blood.  After that bishop William fared east to Kirkwall with a gallant company, and flitted thither the halidom of earl Magnus, and they set the shrine over the high altar in the church.  At that time the market town at Kirkwall had few houses.  Then many signs and tokens were straightway wrought there. --- A little after Bergfinn Skati’s son fared from the north from Shetland the second time to watch over the halidom of earl Magnus, and had with him his leprous son, whose name was Halfdan.  Earl Magnus appeared to both of them, and passed his hands over them, and then Halfdan was made thoroughly whole;  but Bergfinn got back his sight, so that he became a sharp-sighted man. --- Amundi was the name of a man from the north of Shetland;  he had leprosy over all his body;  he fared to Kirkwall, and watched at the shrine of earl Magnus the saint, and prayed for help and health for himself;  but the holy servant of God, earl Magnus, showed himself to him as he slumbered, and passed his hands over all his body, and when he awoke he was whole and well, and knew no ailment anywhere, and all praised God and earl Magnus the saint. --- Thorkel was a man’s name who kept house in the Orkneys;  he fell down from off his barley-stack right down to the ground, and was all crushed on one side;  he was brought to the shrine of the blessed earl Magnus, and there he got back his health. --- Sigurd was the name of a man from the north out of Fetlar.  His hand was cramped, so that all his fingers lay in the palm;  he fared to Kirkwall, and was there made whole. --- Thorbjorn was the name of a man, but Gurth was the name of his father;  he was from Shetland, and was mad, and was brought to earl Magnus, and became straightway whole. --- Thord was the name of a man whose nickname was dragon-shot;  he was Bergfinn’s hireling of Shetland;  he thrashed corn from the halm in the barley barn the next day before St. Lucia’s and St. Magnus’ day.  But when the daylight began to change, then Bergfinn the master went out thither into the barn and bade him strike off work.  Thord says:  “It doesn’t often happen that thou thinkest I work over long.”  Bergfinn said:  “Tomorrow is St. Magnus’ day, which we ought to hold with all such honour as we best can.”  Then Bergfinn went away, but Thord worked still as hard as he could.  But when a short time had gone by then Bergfinn went a second time and spoke to Thord in mickle wrath, and said he thought there was spite in that, "that thou workest now at holy tides, and now leave off at once.”  Then Bergfinn went away in a rage.  But Thord worked on as before.  But when men had sat down to the board, and had eaten and were full, Thord came in in his workaday clothes, just when men took to drinking, and began to drink at once.  But when he had drained one full cup, then he lost his wits at once and got wild, so that men had to hold him and to put him into bonds, and so it went on for three days and nights.  Then Bergfinn vowed for him to give half a mark of silver to the shrine of earl Magnus, and to let Thord watch for three nights if he might become whole.  But Thord became whole on that night, on the evening of which the vow had just been made.  Two men took gold from the shrine of earl Magnus, one an Orkney and the other a Caithness man;  the Caithness man was lost in the Pentland firth;  his name was Gilli.  The Orkney man went mad, and said in his fits what they had done, and then a vow was made for him to go on a pilgrimage south (to Rome), if he might be made whole at the shrine of earl Magnus.  Now he was brought thither and became whole at once. –- Ogmund was the name of a Shetlander on whose head a crossbeam fell and crushed his skull much, but Bergfinn vowed for him, and cast lots whether the vow should be to go south on a pilgrimage, or to set a slave free, or to give money to earl Magnus’ shrine if he were made whole.  But the lot turned up to give money for earl Magnus’ shrine.  But the lot turned up to give money for earl Magnus’ shrine, and there he became whole.  But Bergfinn, his mother’s brother, gave half a mark as he had vowed.  Sigrid Sigurd’s daughter was the name of a woman from the north out of Shetland, who was blind from childhood and until she was twenty;  then her father went with her to earl Magnus, and let her watch there, and gave much goods to the shrine of Magnus, and there she got her sight. --- Sigrid was again the name of a woman from Shetland whose leg broke in two bits;  she was taken to Magnus and she got back there her health. --- Sigrid was the name of a third woman from the north out of Shetland in the island of Unst;  she was with Thorlak, who kept house at Baltastead;  (12)  she sewed when other men left off work on the eve of earl Magnus’ mass;  but Thorlak asked why she worked so long;  she said she would leave off there and then.  He went away, but she sewed on as before.  Then Thorlak went a second time, and asked why she did so ill;  “and away with thee,” he says, “and don’t work in my house.”  She said she had only a little bit unsewn, and worked on as before until it got dark, and she sate in her place.  But when fires were made, and men busked them to eating and drink, then she fell mad and was thrown into bonds, and she was mad until Thorlak vowed a vow for her.  He cast lots whether the vow should be a pilgrimage south, or setting a slave free, or giving money to the shrine of earl Magnus the saint, but the lot came up to give money to earl Magnus’ shrine.  Thorlak brought her thither, and there she became whole, and went south afterwards.  --- In England were two men who staked much money on casting of dice, and one of them had already lost a large sum.  Then he staked a ship of burden and all that he had against all that he had already lost.  But the other man threw first two sixes.  Then that man thought things looked badly for him, and called on earl Magnus the saint that he might not lose all that he had, and then threw his throw.  But one of the dice burst asunder, and there turned up two sixes and and ace, and he gained all that lay upon the throw, and after that he gave earl Magnus much goods. --- Groa was a woman’s name in Hrossey;  she became raving mad, and was brought to earl Magnus the saint, and got there her health, and was there all her life after and praised God.  --- Sigurd was the name of a man;  he was Tand’s son, he kept house north in Shetland, he became devil-mad;  and was sewn up in a hide, and was brought afterwards from the north to Kirkwall to earl Magnus the saint, and there he got back his health, and all praised God who were by and his holy bosom-friend earl Magnus.

Now is done telling here of those glorious tokens which God grants for the sake of saint Magnus the isle-earl.  Now also we must make an end of these stories with this prayer, that he who wrote this Saga, and he who dictated it, and everyone who listened to it, may have intercession and help in their prayers from the holy knight of God earl Magnus, to the absolution of their sins and to everlasting joy;  but of our almighty Lord Jesus Christ may they have help and mercy, peace and joy, both now and for ever, from him who is and was and shall be, one true and everlasting God, granting and willing and mighty to give all good things for ever and ever.  Amen.



1.            The Danish Translation here adds “He did not go into the church for any other reason than that he wished to preserve his life. (sic) There he made his prayers heartily to God, and commended himself into his hands.  Early the morning after he went out of the church, and two others with him by another way down to the shore into a secret place, and then said his prayers again to God.”

2.            The Danish Translation adds, “that he shall have one’s weapons and clothes who puts him to death.”

3.            This date is wrong, to agree with the others it should be 1116.

4.            Instead of this sentence the Translation runs thus: --- “Wise men say that in the spring after they should have been set at one, Thora, the mother of Magnus, had bidden them both to be her guests, and they were to come straightway to her when they were reconciled, and came back from Egil’s isle.”

5.            Fl. adds, “until his worthiness was so plainly revealed that God let his holiness wax higher in the same proportion as it was more tried, as is said in his Book of Tokens and Wonders.”

6.            bitling;  i.e., “the little bit” or “the tiny.”

7.            Fl. reads, “Then Frakok threw off her wimple and tore her hair.”

8.            earl Paul;  that is, of earl Paul the 1st, grandfather of earl Paul Hacon’s son.

9.            Rinansy;  North Ronaldsay.

10.       Comp. above ch. 55, and Isl. Ann. under the year 1168.

11.        St. Lucia’s day;  Comp. Magn. S. Eyjajarls, ch. 31. and ch. 54 above.

12.        Baltastead for Ballaslead in the MS., which would answer to the neighbourhood of the present Baltasound in Unst.


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