Friday September 5th 2014 - Egilsay Island, Orkney, Scotland
We disembarked from Kirkwall Marina for a day sail to Egilsay Island. Onboard the Selkie was the Captain Celia Bull, her son Dylan, Howard Buxton, Selena Kuzman (Artist), Struan Kennedy (Artist), Suly Sanchez (Marine Biologist) and myself. We were off in search of the place where Saint Magnus was executed at the order of his cousin Earl Haakon. Soon I was raising the mainsail and shortly their after we were unfurling the Genoa jib. There was a nice wind blowing out of the (DIRECTION OF WIND) and the seas were quiet. Spending much of my time next to the Captain taking in as much as possible. As we sailed past the island of Shapinsay the Balfour Castle could be seen perched on the hillside. Continuing due North we passed several Cardinal Buoys painted Yellow and Black. Celia explained to me that the first meant safe passage to the south and the next meant safe passage to the north (on the chart this was noted by the arrangement of small triangles above the buoy icon). Arriving at the anchorage at Egilsay we dropped the mainsail followed by the anchor. We were all then transported to the island via a zodiac boat.
Once on land we made our way up the single road leading inland. The Saint Magnus Church stood on the hill north of us and was our first destination. It is thought that this church was built on the sight of the original church where Earl Magnus took refuge in pray the night before his execution. It is a very unique style of cathedral for Orkney, which has been attributed to the belief that this was the site of an early Celtic monastery.
Moving on from the church we walked up the grassy road and made our way out to a large stone monument that sat out in a field. This was the site of Earl Magnus (whom later became Saint Magnus) met his end.
Earl Magnus was executed under the order of his cousin Earl Haakon after he had been double-crossed at a peace meeting he had arranged. Magnus suggested he be banished to Rome or The Holy Land, Haakon said no thanks, then Magnus agreed to be imprisoned and Haakon replied with “No way Jose”. Next Magnus suggested he be maimed or blinded and to this Haakon agreed. But Haakon’s soldiers had had enough of dealing with two lords trying to rule and said they were going to kill one of them and it didn’t matter which it was to them. Haakon is quoted as saying “I like Earldom better than death, so kill him”. The problem now was no one wanted to do it, finally Magnus ordered Haakon’s cook, Lifolf to use his axe on his head, it took two tries.
After a lazy relaxing time at the site of a double axe wound to the head execution we headed back to the pier and finally back aboard the Selkie. Returning to Kirkwall Marina after a lovely day of sailing.
j.frede - Orkney Islands, Scotland - The Clipperton Project
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