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Encyclopedia > St. Magnus' Cathedral, Kirkwall

St. Magnus' Cathedral, Kirkwall dominates the skyline of Kirkwall, the main town of Orkney, a group of islands off the north coast of Scotland. It is Britain's most northerly cathedral, a fine example of Norman architecture built when the islands were ruled by the Norwegian Vikings. Uniquely in Britain, it is owned not by the church but by the city of Kirkwall as a result of an act of King James III of Scotland following Orkney's annexation by Scotland in 1468. St. Magnus' is also the only cathedral in Britain to have its own dungeon. Location within the British Isles Kirkwall is the largest town and capital of the Orkney Islands, in northern Scotland. ... The Orkney Islands are one of 32 unitary council regions in Scotland, and form a traditional county and Lieutenancy area, and the Orkney constituency of the Scottish Parliament. ... Motto: Nemo me impune lacessit (English: No one provokes me with impunity) Scotlands location within Europe Scotlands location within the United Kingdom Languages English, Gaelic, Scots Capital Edinburgh Largest city Glasgow First Minister Jack McConnell Area - Total - % water Ranked 2nd UK 78,782 km² 1. ... The Nave of Durham Cathedral demonstrates the characteristic round arched style, though use of shallow pointed arches above the nave anticipates the Gothic style. ... Vikings were a Norwegian, Icelandic, Danish and Swedish people who lived around the coasts of Scandinavia and raided the coasts of Scandinavia, the British Isles, and other parts of Europe from the late 8th century to the 11th century. ... James III of Scotland (1451/ 1452 – June 11, 1488), son of James II and Mary of Gueldres, created Duke of Rothesay at birth, king of Scotland from 1460 to 1488. ... The dungeon of Bothwell Castle seen from the Great Hall A dungeon (derived from the Old French donjon, from the Latin dominus, lord), in its original medieval usage, was the keep, the main tower of a castle which formed the final defensive position the garrison could retreat to when outer...


Its construction commenced in 1137 and it was added to over the next three hundred years. The first Bishop was William the Old, and the diocese was under the authority of the Archbishop of Trondheim in Norway. It was for Bishop William that the nearby Bishop's Palace was built. Events Louis VII is crowned King of France. ... County Sør-Trøndelag District Municipality NO-1601 Administrative centre Trondheim Mayor (2005) Rita Ottervik (A) Official language form Neutral Area  - Total  - Land  - Percentage Ranked 258 342 km² 322 km² 0. ...


Before the Protestant Reformation, the Cathedral was presided over by the Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney, though his seat is technically in Aberdeen. Today it is a parish church of the Church of Scotland.The current minister is the Revd. Fraser Macnaughton The Protestant Reformation was a movement which emerged in the 16th century as a series of attempts to reform the Roman Catholic Church in Western Europe. ... A cathedral is a Christian church building, specifically of a denomination with an episcopal hierarchy, such as the Anglican, Catholic and some Lutheran churches, which serves as the central church of a diocese, and thus as a bishops seat. ... The Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney is the Ordinary of the Scottish Episcopal Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney. ... This article is about the Scottish city. ... The Church of Scotland (C of S, also known informally as The Kirk; until the 17th century officially the Kirk of Scotland) is the Christian national church of Scotland. ...

St. Magnus' Cathedral
St. Magnus' Cathedral

Contents

Image File history File links St_Magnus_Cthl_Kirkwall. ... Image File history File links St_Magnus_Cthl_Kirkwall. ...


Foundation

The Orkneyinga Saga tells how bloodthirsty intrigue and saintly piety led to the Cathedral's foundation (summarised below). Other accounts tell a similar, though slightly less saintly, tale. The Orkneyinga saga (also called the History of the Earls of Orkney) is an unique historical narrative of the history of the Orkney Islands from their capture by the Norwegian king in the 9th century onwards until about 1200 AD. The saga was written around 1200 AD by an unknown...


Martyrdom of St Magnus

Earl Magnus Erlendsson of Orkney had a reputation for piety and gentleness. On a raid led by the King of Norway on Anglesey, Wales, Magnus refused to fight and stayed on board singing psalms. King Eystein II of Norway granted him a share of the earldom of Orkney held by his cousin Håkon, and they ruled amicably as joint Earls of Orkney from 1105 to 1114. Their followers fell out, and the two sides met at a thing (assembly) on Orkney Mainland, ready to do battle. Peace was negotiated and the Earls arranged to meet each other on the small island of Egilsay, each bringing only two ships. Magnus arrived on 16 April 1116 (or 1117) with his two ships, but then Håkon treacherously turned up with eight ships. Magnus was captured and offered to go into exile or prison, but an assembly of chieftains insisted that one earl must die. Håkon's standard bearer refused to execute Magnus, and an angry Håkon made his cook Lifolf kill Magnus by striking him on the head with an axe. Saint Magnus, Earl Magnus Erlendsson of Orkney, was the first earl of Orkney to bear that name, and ruled from 1108 to about 1116 or 1117. ... Anglesey (Welsh: Ynys Môn, pronounced (IPA), roughly unniss mawn), is an island and county at the northwestern extremity of north Wales. ... For an explanation of often confusing terms such as Great Britain, Britain, United Kingdom and England, see British Isles (terminology). ... Psalms (Tehilim תהילים, in Hebrew) is a book of the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh, and of the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. ... Øystein Haraldson (died 1157), son of king Harald IV of Norway. ... Earl of Orkney - Wikipedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ... Egilsay shown within Orkney Islands Egilsay is one of the Orkney Islands in Scotland, lying east of Rousay. ... April 16 is the 106th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (107th in leap years). ... Events Baldwin I of Jerusalem undertakes an invasion of Egypt The modern book of separate pages stitched together is invented in China Construction starts on the Chennkesava temple The Aztecs leave Aztlán searching for the site of what will eventually become Tenochtitlán and later Mexico City Births Deaths... Events May 3 - Merton Priory (Thomas Becket school) consecrated. ...


Magnus was buried in the Christchurch at Birsay. The rocky area around his grave miraculously became a green field, and there were numerous reports of miraculous happenings and healings. William the Old, Bishop of Orkney, warned that it was "heresy to go about with such tales", then was struck blind in his Birsay cathedral and subsequently had his sight restored after praying at the grave of Magnus, not long after visiting Norway (and perhaps meeting Earl Rögnvald Kolsson). Birsay is a parish in the North West corner of The Mainland of Orkney. ...


Earl Rögnvald founds the Cathedral

Gunhild, sister of Magnus, had married Kol, and the king of Norway granted their son Rögnvald Kolsson the right to his uncle's earldom in 1129. Earl Rögnvald eventually took a fleet to Orkney, but the islanders resisted and Earl Paul who had succeeded Håkon would not give up control without a fight. Then Earl Rögnvald Kolsson was advised by his father Kol to promise the islanders to "build a stone minster at Kirkwall more magnificent than any in Orkney, that you'll have [it] dedicated to your uncle the holy Earl Magnus and provide it with all the funds it will need to flourish. In addition, his holy relics and the episcopal seat must be moved there [from Birsay]". Meanwhile Rögnvald secretly had Paul kidnapped and shipped away, later to be murdered in Caithness. Rögnvald duly became Earl of Orkney. Ragnvald Kale Kollson was a Norwegian saint. ... Birsay is a parish in the North West corner of The Mainland of Orkney. ... Caithness (Gallaibh in Gaelic) is a traditional county and former administrative county within the Highland area of Scotland. ...


In 1135 Magnus was canonised, with 16 April becoming St. Magnus' day. His remains were moved east to St. Olaf's Kirk in the small settlement known as Kirkjuvagr, meaning "Church of the bay", now Kirkwall. Location within the British Isles Kirkwall is the largest town and capital of the Orkney Islands, in northern Scotland. ...


Work on the Cathedral began in 1137, under the direction of Kol. When funds ran short, Kol advised Rögnvald to restore odal rights for cash payment. In 1158 while work was still under way, Rögnvald was killed by a Scottish chieftain. His bones were brought to the Cathedral and he was canonised in 1192, though the records of his sainthood are missing. Rögnvald's bones were found and re-interred during work on the building in the nineteenth century. Udal law is a near-defunct Norse derived legal system, which was formerly found in the Shetland islands and Orkney. ... Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ...


The building

The interior of St. Magnus' Cathedral
The interior of St. Magnus' Cathedral

The Romanesque Cathedral begun in 1137 is a fine example of Norman architecture, attributed to masons from Durham Cathedral. The masonry uses red sandstone quarried near Kirkwall and yellow sandstone from the island of Eday, often in alternating courses or in a chequerboard pattern to give a polychrome effect. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1704x2272, 1820 KB) Summary Interior of the St Magnus Cathedral Kirkwall, Orkney. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1704x2272, 1820 KB) Summary Interior of the St Magnus Cathedral Kirkwall, Orkney. ... Interior of the Saint-Saturnin church St-Sernin basilica, Toulouse, 1080 – 1120: elevation of the east end Romanesque sculpture, cloister of St. ... The Nave of Durham Cathedral demonstrates the characteristic round arched style, though use of shallow pointed arches above the nave anticipates the Gothic style. ... Durham Cathedral silhouetted against the sunset Durham Cathedral from nearby The Rose Window in the Chapel of the Nine Altars. ... Location within the British Isles Kirkwall is the largest town and capital of the Orkney Islands, in northern Scotland. ... Eday shown within Orkney Islands Eday is an island in Orkney, Scotland. ...


As completed during the twelfth century, the original Cathedral had three aisled bays to the chancel with the bay at the east end shorter, and apsed in a similar way to the original apse at Durham, a transept with single east chapel, and eight bays to the nave as at Durham and Dunfermline Abbey. When the Cathedral was ready for consecration the relics of St. Magnus were enshrined in it. In 1917 a hidden cavity in a column was found, containing a box with bones including a skull showing a wound consistent with a blow from an axe. The original Cathedral comprises the choir of today's church. (11th century - 12th century - 13th century - other centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 12th century was that century which lasted from 1101 to 1200. ... In a modern church an aisle is a row down the middle of the church with a set of pews on each side. ... This article is about an architectural feature; for the astronomical term see apsis. ... This article is about an architectural feature; for the astronomical term see apsis. ... Durham (IPA: locally, in RP) is a small city and main settlement of the City of Durham district of County Durham in North East England. ... Links to full descriptions of the elements of a Gothic floorplan are also found at the entry Cathedral diagram. ... Durham (IPA: locally, in RP) is a small city and main settlement of the City of Durham district of County Durham in North East England. ... Dunfermline Abbey and Church - illustration from Cassells History of England circa 1902 Dunfermline Abbey is the remains of a great Benedictine abbey founded in 1070 by Queen Margaret, wife of Malcolm Canmore and granddaughter of Edmund Ironside, King of England. ...


In the late twelfth and early thirteenth century the building was extended to the east with vaulting throughout, and in the late fourteenth century the present lower front was joined to the rest of the building. These later elements introduced the Gothic style with pointed arches. (12th century - 13th century - 14th century - other centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 13th century was that century which lasted from 1201 to 1300. ... (13th century - 14th century - 15th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 14th century was that century which lasted from 1301 to 1400. ... See also Gothic art. ...


In 1468, when Orkney was annexed for Scotland by King James III, St. Magnus' Cathedral came under the control of the Archbishop of St. Andrews and the Bishops of Aberdeen and Orkney were subsequently of Scots rather than Scandinavian origin. Most notable amongst them was Bishop Robert Reid, who presided at St. Magnus' from 1541 to 1558. James III can refer to: James III of Scotland James Francis Edward Stuart; the Old Pretender James III of Cyprus This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... See St Andrews, New South Wales for St Andrews, Sydney, Australia. ... The Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney is the Ordinary of the Scottish Episcopal Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney. ... Robert Reid (d. ...


The Protestant Reformation in 1560 had a less dramatic effect on St. Magnus' Cathedral than it had in some other parts of Scotland, but the church had a narrow escape in 1614. Government forces suppressing a rebellion had besieged and destroyed Kirkwall Castle and intended to destroy St. Magnus' Cathedral after rebels had hidden inside. The Bishop of the day intervened to prevent them. The Protestant Reformation was a movement which emerged in the 16th century as a series of attempts to reform the Roman Catholic Church in Western Europe. ... Events February 27 - The Treaty of Berwick, which would expel the French from Scotland, is signed by England and the Congregation of Scotland The first tulip bulb was brought from Turkey to the Netherlands. ...


Major work was undertaken on the Cathedral in the early 1900s. This included replacing the dumpy slated pyramid atop the tower with a taller spire clothed in copper sheeting. As a result today's Cathedral looks much more as it did until its original spire was struck by lightning in the late 1600s. Restoration and renovation work on the building continues, with increased urgency since it was discovered in the 1970s that the west end of the Cathedral was in danger of collapsing away from the remainder of the structure. Other work has progressed further, and to celebrate its 850th anniversary in 1987 Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom unveiled a magnificent new west window. St. Magnus' is the only wholly entire medieval Scottish Cathedral, and one of the best-preserved buildings of its date in Britain. Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor), born 21 April 1926, is Queen of sixteen independent nations known as the Commonwealth Realms (and has previously been Queen of sixteen others). ...


Visiting the cathedral

Internally, St. Magnus' Cathedral is a fascinating place to visit. The great age of much of its structure means it has smaller windows than those found in more modern churches, and it is therefore darker than might be expected. But internally, as externally, the illusion of much greater size than is actually the case has been maintained.


A recent innovation has allowed visitors to really appreciate the intricacies, the open spaces and the height of Cathedral. Visitors can now explore the upper areas of the Cathedral and the tower on guided tours in small groups. This involves the negotiation of some very tight and confined spiral stone staircases, but also gives truly stunning views, both within the Cathedral itself and out over much of Orkney Mainland from the tower. The Mainland, Orkney shown within The Orkney Islands The Mainland is the main island of Orkney, Scotland. ...


The Bishop's Palace

At the same time as the original cathedral was being constructed, the Bishop's Palace was built nearby for William the Old with a large rectangular hall above vaulted store rooms. King Haakon IV of Norway, overwintering after his defeat in the Battle of Largs, died here in December 1263, marking the end of Norse rule over the Outer Hebrides. The King was buried in St. Magnus' Cathedral until the weather was good enough to return his remains to Bergen. The Bishops Palace, Kirkwall was built at the same time as the adjacent St Magnus Cathedral in the centre of Kirkwall, Orkney was being constructed, and housed the cathedrals first bishop, William the Old of the Norwegian Catholic church who took his authority from the Archbishop of Trondheim. ... An illustration of Hákon, King of Norway, and his son Magnus, from Flateyjarbók HÃ¥kon IV (1204 – December 16, 1263), (Norwegian HÃ¥kon HÃ¥konsson, Old Norse Hákon Hákonarson) also called Haakon the Old. ... The Battle of Largs took place in Largs, North Ayrshire in 1263 between Scotland and the forces of King Magnus III of Man and the Isles as well as the manxmens ally, King Haakon IV of Norway. ... Western Isles redirects here. ... County Hordaland District Midhordland Municipality NO-1201 Administrative centre Bergen Mayor (2004) Herman Friele (H) Official language form Neutral Area  - Total  - Land  - Percentage Ranked 215 465 km² 445 km² 0. ...


The palace fell into ruins, then after 1540 was restored by Bishop Robert Reid who added a round tower, the "Moosie Toor". He presided at St. Magnus' from 1541 to 1558 and, incidentally, also founded Edinburgh University. The ruins of the Bishop's and adjoining Earl's Palace are open to the public (see Historic Scotland). Robert Reid (d. ... Events The first official translation of the entire Bible in Swedish February 12 - Pedro de Valdivia founds Santiago de Chile. ... Events January 7 - French troops led by Francis, Duke of Guise take Calais, the last continental possession of England July 13 - Battle of Gravelines: In France, Spanish forces led by Count Lamoral of Egmont defeat the French forces of Marshal Paul des Thermes at Gravelines. ... The University of Edinburgh was founded in 1583 as a renowned centre for teaching in Edinburgh, Scotland. ... Historic Scotland is the Scottish agency looking after historic monuments. ...


The Cathedral dungeon

Uniquely in Britain, the Cathedral has a dungeon or holding pen built between the south wall of the choir and the south transept chapel. It is known as Marwick's Hole, but the source of this name and the time of its origin are unknown. A source claims it dates from the mid sixteenth century, the time of Bishop Robert Reid. Originally the Hall of Justice above the prison had a chute to slide prisoners down, the aperture then being closed leaving the occupant in total darkness with no way to escape. After the Protestant Reformation the chute was blocked, and an opening formed into the Cathedral at high level through a former window. Clergy sat in the chapel, then sent the prisoner round into the choir and up a ladder to the opening leading into the cell. In the seventeenth century, Jane Forsyth, accused of witchcraft and sentenced to be burned at the stake, was rescued from the dungeon at night by her lover and the two escaped to remote exile in the city of Manchester. (15th century - 16th century - 17th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 16th century was that century which lasted from 1501 to 1600. ... The Protestant Reformation was a movement which emerged in the 16th century as a series of attempts to reform the Roman Catholic Church in Western Europe. ... (16th century - 17th century - 18th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 17th century was that century which lasted from 1601-1700. ... Manchester is a city in the North West of England. ...


The Earl's Palace

Opposite the Bishop's Palace, the ruins of the Earl's Palace give a reminder of the cruel reign of the Stewart Earls of Orkney during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. The ruins of the Earls Palace, Kirkwall lie near St Magnus Cathedral in the centre of Kirkwall, Orkney. ... The House of Stuart or Stewart was a Scottish, and then British, Royal House of Breton origin. ...


Trivia

Mastermind is one of the most highly regarded British quiz shows, well-known for its challenging questions, intimidating setting, and air of seriousness. ...

External links

  • The Cathedrals of Britain at BBC History
  • Scottish Gothic Churches and Abbeys
  • Orkney Heritage website
  • St. Magnus' Cathedral feature page at Undiscovered Scotland
  • A detailed history of St. Magnus' Cathedral

Orkneyjar.com

  • St. Magnus of Orkney
  • The Founding of St. Magnus' Cathedral

See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
St. Magnus' Cathedral, Kirkwall - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1694 words)
Magnus' Cathedral, Kirkwall dominates the skyline of Kirkwall, the main town of Orkney, a group of islands off the north coast of Scotland.
Magnus was buried in the Christchurch at Birsay.
As completed during the twelfth century, the original Cathedral had three aisled bays to the chancel with the bay at the east end shorter, and apsed in a similar way to the original apse at Durham, a transept with single east chapel, and eight bays to the nave as at Durham and Dunfermline Abbey.
Orkneyjar - The Founding of Saint Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall (1044 words)
About this time, the revered remains of the newly-sainted Magnus were taken from their resting place at Christchurch in Birsay, where they had lain for 20 years, and moved east.
Their destination was the unassuming little Church of St Olaf in a small settlement by the sea named Kirkjuvagr, the town later to become known as Kirkwall.
This act meant that the cathedral had to be classed as a heritable possession and therefore charged the town with its maintenance.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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