The 900th anniversary of the martyrdom of Orkney’s St Magnus will be marked across the islands this year with a number of special events and activities.

The Easter weekend will see the launch of the Magnus 900 programme, an Orkney-wide calendar that will commemorate St Magnus and look at how his story still plays a part in life in the islands.

St Magnus Cathedral, built in honour of the Orkney Saint


The story of St Magnus, one of power, betrayal and miracles, is an important cornerstone in Orcadian history. It ended violently in 1117, with Magnus slain on the Orkney island of Egilsay.

His legacy lives on today and he lends his name to Kirkwall’s magnificent Cathedral, and even Orkney’s world famous midsummer festival.

St Magnus Day in Orkney is the 16th of April, and that weekend this year will see the launch of the cultural events planned throughout 2017 to mark the anniversary of his death. On Saturday 15th April, an interpretation of his martyrdom will be held in Egilsay. The live roleplay will include everyone present, with the action interwoven with songs, music, Viking inspired games and the chance to explore the beautiful island.

Anyone who would like to take part should contact Dr Ragnhild Ljosland from the Centre of Nordic Studies on Ragnhild.Ljosland@uhi.ac.uk to find out more.

The St Magnus Kirk in Egilsay. The Magnus 900 events will be launched in the island, where Magnus was killed in 1117.


The packed day of free activities will also include the unveiling of a new artwork in the St Magnus Church in Birsay, before a newly commissioned St Magnus Foy is performed at the nearby Birsay Hall. It will be rounded off with a traditional Orkney supper and music.

Then, on the following Sunday, the St Magnus Way will be officially launched. The 51 mile pilgrimage route will take walkers across the west mainland of Orkney, following the path St Magnus’s body took 900 years ago. The day itself will see a 4.4 mile ‘taster’ route to give people the chance to experience the new trail.

Monday 17th April will see the full first leg of the St Magnus Way launched, from the Broch of Gurness to Birsay, taking in some of Orkney’s most spectacular scenery at the same time. There will also be a special visual arts, music and literature programme, ‘The Inspiration of Magnus’ at the St Magnus Church.

The story of St Magnus lives on in Orkney


Visit Orkney this year to experience the St Magnus story for yourself. Find out more via the official Magnus 900 website and book your accommodation via the Visit Orkney website.


All events are free. However Ferry tickets for Saturday’s trip to Egilsay must be booked and paid for in advance by contacting the Orkney Ferries office in Kirkwall on 872044. Saturday evening’s supper is ticketed for catering purposes, and tickets are available from the 27 March from the Palace Stores, Birsay as well as Orkney Islands Council customer services in Kirkwall and the Warehouse Buildings in Stromness.

Other programme highlights from the Easter weekend include:

• Sunday 16 April - Easter Sunday Service: St Magnus Cathedral, 11.15am
• Sails of St Magnus: St Magnus Cathedral – free to view from Easter Sunday onwards
• Monday 17 April – For The Journey & Return - Artist Beatrice Searle will join us on the first leg of the St Magnus Way as she begins her epic pilgrimage with The Orkney Boat. The Walk departs the Broch of Gurness at 10.00am