Annals of Ulster
The Annals of Ulster are annals of medieval Ireland. The entries span the years from A. D. 431 to A. D. 1540. The entries up to A. D. 1489 were compiled in the late 15th century by the scribe Ruaidhrí Ó Luinín, under his patron Cathal Óg Mac Maghnusa on the island of Belle Isle on Lough Erne in the kingdom of Fermanagh. Entries were added by others. Entries up to the mid-6th Century are retrospective, drawing on earlier annalistic and historical texts, while entries were contemporary, based on recollection and oral history. T. M. Charles-Edwards has claimed that the main source for its records of the first millennium A. D. is a now lost Armagh continuation of the Chronicle of Ireland. The Annals used the Irish language, with some entries in Latin; because the Annals copied its sources verbatim, they are useful not just for historians, but for linguists studying the evolution of the Irish language. A century the Annals of Ulster became an important source for the authors of the Annals of the Four Masters.
It informs the Irish text Cogad Gáedel re Gallaib. The Library of Trinity College Dublin possesses the original manuscript. There are two main modern English translations of the annals – Mac Airt and Mac Niocaill and MacCarthy. Several kings are mentioned throughout the Annals of Ulster; the Annals tend to follow the lives of the kings, including important battles and their ultimate death. Between the years of 847 and 879, three different kings are highlighted. For example: Máel Sechnaill mac Máele Ruanaid, the king of the southern Ui Neill clan from 846–862: 839.6 – First mentioned in the Annals of Ulster having killed Crunnmael son of Fiannamail. 841.2 – Kills Diarmait 843.1 – Mael Sechnaill's father, Mael Ruanaid, dies 845.7 – Kills his brother Flann 845.8 – Takes Tuirgéis prisoner 846.7 – Suffers heavy losses at hands of Tigernach 847.2 – Begins his reign. 847.3 – Destroys the Island of Loch Muinremor 848.4 – defeats Vikings at Forach 849.12 – conducts siege in Crupat 850.3 – Cinaed, king of Cianacht, with help from foreign forces rebels against Mael Sechnaill 851.2 – kills Cinaed, king of Cianacht 851.5 – attends conference in Ard Macha 854.2 – took hostages from Mumu at Inneóin na nDéise 856.2 – took hostages from Mumu at Caisel 856.3 – battle against the Vikings 858.4 – marched against Mumu, took hostages from them and travelled with them "from Belat Gabráin to Inis Tarbnai off the Irish coast, from Dún Cermna to Ára Airthir."
859.3 – attends conference at Ráith Aeda Meic Bric "to make peace and amity between the men of Ireland" 860.1 – leads army into the north, but hold position 862.5 – Dies and is described as "king of all Ireland"The same pattern is followed for Aed mac Neill, the king of the northern Ui Neill clan. Aed mac Neill appears in the following entries in the Annals of Ulster: 855.3, 856.5, 860.1, 861.1, 862.2, 862.3, 863.2, 864.1, 864.3, 866.4, 868.4, 870.2, 874.4, 879.1 The final entry ends with the entry about his death and includes a poem. It reads "Aed son of Niall, king of Temair, fell asleep on the twelfth of the Kalends of 20 December Nov at Druim Inasclainn in the territory of Conaille. 1. "Just as with the Irish kings, the Annals of Ulster follow the lives of the Viking kings of Dublin. For example, Amlaíb Conung is mentioned in the following entries: 853.2, 857.1, 859.2, 863.4, 864.2, 866.1, 867.8, 869.6, 870.6, 871.2, 875.4 The final entry deviates from the Irish kings and instead tells of the death of Amlaib’s son, Oistín and reads: "Oistín son of Amlaíb, king of the Norsemen, was deceitfully killed by Albann."
Along with kings and kingdoms, the entries in the Annals of Ulster focus on important places of Ireland such as Armagh, the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland which appears several times throughout the text. Dublin for example, referred to in the text as either Áth Cliath or Duiblinn, is described in the Annals of Ulster with entries ranging from the settlement of Dublin by Vikings to deaths of notable names to Dublin being ruled by the Irish; the town appears 66 different times in the Annals of Ulster and can be found in the following entries: 770.1, 790.2, 841.4, 842.2, 842.7, 845.12, 851.3, 870.2, 871.2 893.4, 895.6, 902.2, 917.4, 919.3, 920.5, 921.5, 921.8, 924.3, 926.6, 927.3, 930.1, 936.2, 938.5, 938.6, 939.1, 942.3, 942.7, 944.3, 945.6, 946.1, 947.1, 950.7, 951.3, 951.7, 956.3, 960.2, 961.1, 978.3, 980.1, 994.6, 995.2, 999.8, 1000.4, 1013.12, 1013.13, 1014.2, 1018.2, 1021.1, 1022.4, 1031.2, 1035.5, 1070.2, 1075.1, 1075.4, 1084.8, 1088.4, 1094.2, 1095.4, 1100.5, 1103.5, 1105.3, 1115.4, 1118.6, 1121.7, 1126.7, 1128.6 The Annals of Ulster contain a large amount of historical information on the invasions of the Vikings into Ireland and several specific events are mentioned that are paralleled in other Irish works such as the Cogad Gáedel re Gallaib.
The Annals of Ulster documents the Viking invasions one year after the common starting event of the Viking Period, the raiding of Lindisfarne in 793, as mentioned by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. The first mentioning of the Vikings is brief. "794.7 Devastation of all the islands of Br
Malcolm II of Scotland
Malcolm II was King of the Scots from 1005 until his death. He was a son of King Kenneth II. To the Irish annals which recorded his death, Malcolm was High King of Scotland. In the same way that Brian Bóruma, High King of Ireland, was not the only king in Ireland, Malcolm was one of several kings within the geographical boundaries of modern Scotland: his fellow kings included the king of Strathclyde, who ruled much of the south-west, various Norse-Gael kings on the western coast and the Hebrides and and most dangerous rivals, the kings or Mormaers of Moray. To the south, in the Kingdom of England, the Earls of Bernicia and Northumbria, whose predecessors as kings of Northumbria had once ruled most of southern Scotland, still controlled large parts of the southeast. Malcolm II was born to Kenneth II of Scotland, he was grandson of Malcolm I of Scotland. In 997, the killer of Constantine is credited as being son of Malcolm. Since there is no known and relevant Kenneth alive at that time, it is considered an error for either Kenneth III, who succeeded Constantine, or Malcolm himself, the son of Kenneth II.
Whether Malcolm killed Constantine or not, there is no doubt that in 1005 he killed Constantine's successor Kenneth III in battle at Monzievaird in Strathearn. John of Fordun writes that Malcolm defeated a Norwegian army "in the first days after his coronation", but this is not reported elsewhere. Fordun says that the Bishopric of Mortlach was founded in thanks for this victory over the Norwegians. Malcolm demonstrated a rare ability to survive among early Scottish kings by reigning for twenty-nine years, he was a ambitious man. Brehon tradition provided that the successor to Malcolm was to be selected by him from among the descendants of King Aedh, with the consent of Malcolm's ministers and of the church. Ostensibly in an attempt to end the devastating feuds in the north of Scotland, but influenced by the Norman feudal model, Malcolm ignored tradition and determined to retain the succession within his own line, but since Malcolm had no son of his own, he undertook to negotiate a series of dynastic marriages of his three daughters to men who might otherwise be his rivals, while securing the loyalty of the principal chiefs, their relatives.
First he married his daughter Bethoc to Crinan, Thane of The Isles, head of the house of Atholl and secular Abbot of Dunkeld. His middle daughter, was married to Finlay, Earl of Moray, Thane of Ross and Cromarty and a descendant of Loarn of Dalriada; this was risky business under the rules of succession of the Gael, but he thereby secured his rear and, taking advantage of the renewal of Viking attacks on England, marched south to fight the English. He defeated the Angles at Carham in 1018 and installed his grandson, son of the Abbot of Dunkeld and his choice as Tanist, in Carlisle as King of Cumbria that same year; the first reliable report of Malcolm II's reign is of an invasion of Bernicia in 1006 the customary crech ríg, which involved a siege of Durham. This appears to have resulted in a heavy defeat by the Northumbrians, led by Uhtred of Bamburgh Earl of Bernicia, reported by the Annals of Ulster. A second war in Bernicia in 1018, was more successful; the Battle of Carham, by the River Tweed, was a victory for the Scots led by Malcolm II and the men of Strathclyde led by their king, Owen the Bald.
By this time Earl Uchtred may have been dead, Eiríkr Hákonarson was appointed Earl of Northumbria by his brother-in-law Cnut the Great, although his authority seems to have been limited to the south, the former kingdom of Deira, he took no action against the Scots so far as is known. The work De obsessione Dunelmi claims that Uchtred's brother Eadwulf Cudel surrendered Lothian to Malcolm II in the aftermath of the defeat at Carham; this is to have been the lands between Dunbar and the Tweed as other parts of Lothian had been under Scots control before this time. It has been suggested that Cnut received tribute from the Scots for Lothian, but as he had received none from the Bernician Earls this is not probable. Cnut, reports the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, led an army into Scotland on his return from pilgrimage to Rome; the Chronicle dates this to 1031, but there are reasons to suppose that it should be dated to 1027. Burgundian chronicler Rodulfus Glaber recounts the expedition soon afterwards, describing Malcolm as "powerful in resources and arms … Christian in faith and deed."
Ralph claims that peace was made between Malcolm and Cnut through the intervention of Richard, Duke of Normandy, brother of Cnut's wife Emma. Richard died in about 1027 and Rodulfus wrote close in time to the events, it has been suggested that the root of the quarrel between Cnut and Malcolm lies in Cnut's pilgrimage to Rome, the coronation of Holy Roman Emperor Conrad II, where Cnut and Rudolph III, King of Burgundy had the place of honour. If Malcolm were present, the repeated mentions of his piety in the annals make it quite possible that he made a pilgrimage to Rome, as did Mac Bethad mac Findláich in times the coronation would have allowed Malcolm to publicly snub Cnut's claims to overlordship. Cnut obtained rather less than previous English kings, a promise of peace and friendship rather than the promise of aid on land and sea that Edgar and others had obtained; the sourc
Malcolm III of Scotland
Malcolm III was King of Scots from 1058 to 1093. He was nicknamed "Canmore". Malcolm's long reign of 35 years preceded the beginning of the Scoto-Norman age. Henry I of England and Eustace III of Boulogne were his sons-in-law, making him the maternal grandfather of Empress Matilda, William Adelin and Matilda of Boulogne. All three of them were prominent in English politics during the 12th century. Malcolm's kingdom did not extend over the full territory of modern Scotland: the north and west of Scotland remained under Scandinavian rule following the Norse invasions. Malcolm III fought a series of wars against the Kingdom of England, which may have had as its objective the conquest of the English earldom of Northumbria; these wars did not result in any significant advances southward. Malcolm's primary achievement was to continue a lineage that ruled Scotland for many years, although his role as founder of a dynasty has more to do with the propaganda of his youngest son David I and his descendants than with history.
Malcolm's second wife, St. Margaret of Scotland, is Scotland's only royal saint. Malcolm himself had no reputation for piety. Malcolm's father Duncan I became king in late 1034, on the death of Malcolm II, Duncan's maternal grandfather and Malcolm's great-grandfather. According to John of Fordun, whose account is the original source of part at least of William Shakespeare's Macbeth, Malcolm's mother was a niece of Siward, Earl of Northumbria, but an earlier king-list gives her the Gaelic name Suthen. Other sources claim that either a daughter or niece would have been too young to fit the timeline, thus the relative would have been Siward's own sister Sybil, which may have translated into Gaelic as Suthen. Duncan's reign was not successful and he was killed in battle with the men of Moray, led by Macbeth, on 15 August 1040. Duncan was young at the time of his death, Malcolm and his brother Donalbane were children. Malcolm's family attempted to overthrow Macbeth in 1045, but Malcolm's grandfather Crínán of Dunkeld was killed in the attempt.
Soon after the death of Duncan his two young sons were sent away for greater safety—exactly where is the subject of debate. According to one version, Malcolm was sent to England, his younger brother Donalbane was sent to the Isles. Based on Fordun's account, it was assumed that Malcolm passed most of Macbeth's seventeen-year reign in the Kingdom of England at the court of Edward the Confessor. Today's British Royal family can trace their family history back to Malcolm III via his daughter Matilda. According to an alternative version, Malcolm's mother took both sons into exile at the court of Thorfinn Sigurdsson, Earl of Orkney, an enemy of Macbeth's family, Duncan's kinsman by marriage. An English invasion in 1054, with Siward, Earl of Northumbria in command, had as its goal the installation of one "Máel Coluim, son of the king of the Cumbrians"; this Máel Coluim has traditionally been identified with the Malcolm III. This interpretation derives from the Chronicle attributed to the 14th-century chronicler of Scotland, John of Fordun, as well as from earlier sources such as William of Malmesbury.
The latter reported that Macbeth was killed in the battle by Siward, but it is known that Macbeth outlived Siward by two years. A. A. M. Duncan argued in 2002 that, using the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entry as their source writers innocently misidentified "Máel Coluim" with the Scottish king of the same name. Duncan's argument has been supported by several subsequent historians specialising in the era, such as Richard Oram, Dauvit Broun and Alex Woolf, it has been suggested that Máel Coluim may have been a son of Owain Foel, British king of Strathclyde by a daughter of Malcolm II, King of Scotland. In 1057 various chroniclers report the death of Macbeth at Malcolm's hand, on 15 August 1057 at Lumphanan in Aberdeenshire. Macbeth was succeeded by his stepson Lulach, crowned at Scone on 8 September 1057. Lulach was killed by Malcolm, "by treachery", near Huntly on 23 April 1058. After this, Malcolm became king being inaugurated on 25 April 1058, although only John of Fordun reports this. If Orderic Vitalis is to be relied upon, one of Malcolm's earliest actions as king was to travel to the court of Edward the Confessor in 1059 to arrange a marriage with Edward's kinswoman Margaret, who had arrived in England two years before from Hungary.
If a marriage agreement was made in 1059, it was not kept, this may explain the Scots invasion of Northumbria in 1061 when Lindisfarne was plundered. Malcolm's raids in Northumbria may have been related to the disputed "Kingdom of the Cumbrians", reestablished by Earl Siward in 1054, under Malcolm's control by 1070; the Orkneyinga saga reports that Malcolm married the widow of Thorfinn Sigurdsson, Ingibiorg, a daughter of Finn Arnesson. Although Ingibiorg is assumed to have died shortly before 1070, it is possible that she died much earlier, around 1058; the Orkneyinga Saga records that Malcolm and Ingibiorg had a son, Duncan II, king. Some Medieval commentators, following William of Malmesbury, claimed that Duncan was illegitimate, but this claim is propaganda reflecting the need of Malcolm's descendants by Margaret to undermine the claims of Duncan's descendants, the Meic Uilleim. Malcolm's son Domnall, whose death is reported in 1085, is not mentioned by the author of the Orkneyinga Sa
Thorfinn the Mighty
Thorfinn Sigurdsson known as Thorfinn the Mighty, was an 11th-century Earl of Orkney. He was the youngest of five sons of Earl Sigurd Hlodvirsson and the only one resulting from Sigurd's marriage to a daughter of Malcolm II of Scotland, he ruled alone as earl for about a third of the time that he held the title and jointly with one or more of his brothers or with his nephew Rögnvald Brusason for the remainder. Thorfinn married daughter of Finn Arnesson, Jarl of Halland; the Heimskringla of Icelandic historian Snorri Sturluson, the anonymous compiler of the Orkneyinga Saga wrote that Thorfinn was the most powerful of all the earls of Orkney and that he ruled substantial territories beyond the Northern Isles. A sizeable part of the latter saga's account concerns his wars with a "King of Scots" named Karl Hundason whose identity is uncertain. In his years he went on a pilgrimage to Rome and he was instrumental in making Orkney and Shetland part of mainstream Christendom. On his death in the latter half of the 11th century he was followed as earl by his sons Paul and Erlend.
There are numerous problems associated with the chronology of Thorfinn's life and in identifying his relationships to the southern polities of the Kingdom of Alba and the Kingdom of Moray. His diplomacy with the Norwegian court has been interpreted in various ways, his life has been the subject of various works of historical fiction. The sources for Thorfinn's life are exclusively Norse sagas, which were written down long after the time of the events in his life they record; the main sources are St Olaf's saga and the more detailed Orkneyinga Saga, which were first compiled in Iceland in the early 13th century. Much of the information the latter contains is "hard to corroborate" although it is a "generally credible" narrative in this context. Thorfinn was the youngest of the five known sons of Earl Sigurd Hlodvirsson, but the only son of Sigurd's marriage to an unknown daughter of King Malcolm II, his elder half-brothers Einar and Sumarlidi survived to adulthood, while another brother called Hundi died young in Norway, a hostage at the court of King Olaf Trygvasson.
Earl Sigurd was killed at the Battle of Clontarf on 23 April 1014. Before setting out for Ireland, he had sent Thorfinn aged five, to be fostered by his maternal grandfather, the King of Scots; when the news of Sigurd's death came, Thorfinn's older half-brothers divided Orkney and Shetland between them. King Máel Coluim set Thorfinn up as ruler of Caithness and Sutherland with Scots advisors to rule for him. Earl Sigurd had been a ruler of the Suðreyar but these holdings appear to have escaped the control of the earls of Orkney at the time of his death or shortly thereafter; the Orkneyinga Saga provides this description of Thorfinn:He was unusually tall and strong, an ugly-looking man with a black head of hair, sharp features, a big nose and bushy eyebrows, a forceful man, greedy for fame and fortune. He did well in battle, for he was both full of courage. Joint earldoms were a frequent feature of the Norse earldom of Orkney, although the Orkneyinga saga is less than explicit about how these shares were divided up geographically.
Sumarlidi died in his bed not long after his father, most no than 1018 and Einar took his share, ruling two-thirds of the earldom with the remaining third held by Brusi. Einar soon became unpopular, demanding heavy taxes and frequent military service from the farmers, gaining little booty on his raids, he was, the saga says, "a great bully", whereas Brusi was "well liked by everyone". The farmers of the isles opposition to Einar's rule were led by Thorkel Amundason and, in danger of his life, he fled to Thorfinn's court in Caithness, he became his foster-father, hence his by-name, "Thorkel Fosterer". After Sumarlidi's death the disposition of his third share in Orkney and Shetland became a matter of dispute when Thorfinn claimed it as his. While Brusi was willing to grant it to him, "ruthless and grasping, a hard and successful fighting man" and somewhat like Thorfinn in temperament was not. Einar and Thorfinn each began raising an army to settle matters by force, but Earl Brusi made peace between them by raising his own men to come between them and persuading Einar to give Thorfinn what he asked for.
It was agreed that on the death of either Brusi or Einar, the surviving brother would inherit the other's share. Thorfinn appointed Thorkel Fosterer as his tax-gatherer in the islands, but Einar had not forgotten their earlier dispute and Thorkel again left the islands in fear of his life, returning to Thorfinn's base in Caithness. Thorkel travelled to Norway with Thorfinn's support, to meet with King Olaf Haraldsson, he was well received there, for Olaf bore his own grudge against Einar for the killing of his comrade Eyvind Aurochs-Horn some years earlier. Olaf invited Thorfinn to Norway, he too was welcomed to Olaf's court. Thorfinn and Thorkel returned to Orkney to find Einar raising an army against them. Brusi again made peace between them, it was agreed that Einar and Thorkel would entertain one another to a feast. In October 1020 Einar attended Thorkel's hall at Hlaupandanes in Deerness in a sour mood. On the last day of the feast Thorkel was supposed to travel with Einar for the reciprocal event, however his spies reported to him that ambushes had been prepared against him along his route.
Thorkel therefore delayed his departure, leaving Einar to wait for his arrival by the fire in his great hall. Thorkel arrived by stealth, walked into the hall with one of his men and they killed Einar. Thorkel escaped to Norway; the death of Einar did not end the disp
Scotland is a country, part of the United Kingdom. Sharing a border with England to the southeast, Scotland is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, by the North Sea to the northeast and by the Irish Sea to the south. In addition to the mainland, situated on the northern third of the island of Great Britain, Scotland has over 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides; the Kingdom of Scotland emerged as an independent sovereign state in the Early Middle Ages and continued to exist until 1707. By inheritance in 1603, James VI, King of Scots, became King of England and King of Ireland, thus forming a personal union of the three kingdoms. Scotland subsequently entered into a political union with the Kingdom of England on 1 May 1707 to create the new Kingdom of Great Britain; the union created a new Parliament of Great Britain, which succeeded both the Parliament of Scotland and the Parliament of England. In 1801, the Kingdom of Great Britain and Kingdom of Ireland enacted a political union to create a United Kingdom.
The majority of Ireland subsequently seceded from the UK in 1922. Within Scotland, the monarchy of the United Kingdom has continued to use a variety of styles and other royal symbols of statehood specific to the pre-union Kingdom of Scotland; the legal system within Scotland has remained separate from those of England and Wales and Northern Ireland. The continued existence of legal, educational and other institutions distinct from those in the remainder of the UK have all contributed to the continuation of Scottish culture and national identity since the 1707 union with England; the Scottish Parliament, a unicameral legislature comprising 129 members, was established in 1999 and has authority over those areas of domestic policy which have been devolved by the United Kingdom Parliament. The head of the Scottish Government, the executive of the devolved legislature, is the First Minister of Scotland. Scotland is represented in the UK House of Commons by 59 MPs and in the European Parliament by 6 MEPs.
Scotland is a member of the British–Irish Council, sends five members of the Scottish Parliament to the British–Irish Parliamentary Assembly. Scotland is divided into councils. Glasgow City is the largest subdivision in Scotland in terms of population, with Highland being the largest in terms of area. "Scotland" comes from the Latin name for the Gaels. From the ninth century, the meaning of Scotia shifted to designate Gaelic Scotland and by the eleventh century the name was being used to refer to the core territory of the Kingdom of Alba in what is now east-central Scotland; the use of the words Scots and Scotland to encompass most of what is now Scotland became common in the Late Middle Ages, as the Kingdom of Alba expanded and came to encompass various peoples of diverse origins. Repeated glaciations, which covered the entire land mass of modern Scotland, destroyed any traces of human habitation that may have existed before the Mesolithic period, it is believed the first post-glacial groups of hunter-gatherers arrived in Scotland around 12,800 years ago, as the ice sheet retreated after the last glaciation.
At the time, Scotland was covered in forests, had more bog-land, the main form of transport was by water. These settlers began building the first known permanent houses on Scottish soil around 9,500 years ago, the first villages around 6,000 years ago; the well-preserved village of Skara Brae on the mainland of Orkney dates from this period. Neolithic habitation and ritual sites are common and well preserved in the Northern Isles and Western Isles, where a lack of trees led to most structures being built of local stone. Evidence of sophisticated pre-Christian belief systems is demonstrated by sites such as the Callanish Stones on Lewis and the Maes Howe on Orkney, which were built in the third millennium BCE; the first written reference to Scotland was in 320 BC by Greek sailor Pytheas, who called the northern tip of Britain "Orcas", the source of the name of the Orkney islands. During the first millennium BCE, the society changed to a chiefdom model, as consolidation of settlement led to the concentration of wealth and underground stores of surplus food.
The first Roman incursion into Scotland occurred in 79 AD. After the Roman victory, Roman forts were set along the Gask Ridge close to the Highland line, but by three years after the battle, the Roman armies had withdrawn to the Southern Uplands; the Romans erected Hadrian's Wall in northern England and the Limes Britannicus became the northern border of the Roman Empire. The Roman influence on the southern part of the country was considerable, they introduced Christianity to Scotland. Beginning in the sixth century, the area, now Scotland was divided into three areas: Pictland, a patchwork of small lordships in central Scotland; these societies were based on the family unit and had sharp divisions in wealth, although the vast majority were poor and worked full-time in subsistence agriculture. The Picts kept slaves through the ninth century. Gaelic influence over Pictland and Northumbria was facilitated by the large number of Gaelic-speaking clerics working as missionaries. Operating in the sixth ce
The Orkneyinga saga is a historical narrative of the history of the Orkney and Shetland islands and their relationship with other local polities Norway and Scotland. The saga has "no parallel in the social and literary record of Scotland" and is "the only medieval chronicle to have Orkney as the central place of action"; the main focus of the work is the line of jarls who ruled the Earldom of Orkney, which constituted the Norðreyjar or Northern Isles of both Orkney and Shetland and there are frequent references to both archipelagoes throughout. The narrative commences with a brief mythical ancestry tale and proceeds to outline the Norse take-over of the Norðreyjar by Harald Fairhair – the former event is not in doubt although the role of the latter King of Norway is no longer accepted by historians as a likelihood; the saga outlines, with varying degrees of detail, the lives and times of the many jarls who ruled the islands between the 9th and 13th centuries. The extent to which the earlier sections in particular can be considered genuine history rather than fiction have been much debated by scholars.
There are several recurring themes in the Orkneyinga saga, including strife between brothers, relationships between the jarls and the Norwegian crown, raiding in the Suðreyjar – the Hebrides. In part, the saga's purpose was to provide a history of the islands and enable its readers to "understand themselves through a knowledge of their origins" but where its historical veracity is lacking it provides modern scholars with insights into the motives of the writers and the politics of 13th century Orkney; this Norse saga was written around in the early thirteenth century by an unknown Icelandic author, associated with the cultural centre at Oddi. Orkneyinga saga belongs to the genre of "Kings’ Sagas" within Icelandic saga literature, a group of histories of the kings of Norway, the best known of, Heimskringla, written by Snorri Sturluson. Indeed Sturluson used Orkneyinga saga as one of his sources for Heimskringla, compiled around 1230; as was the case with Icelandic language writing of this period, the aims of the saga were to provide a sense of social continuity through the telling of history combined with an entertaining narrative drive.
The tales are thought to have been compiled from a number of sources, combining family pedigrees, praise poetry and oral legends with historical facts. In the case of the Orkneyinga saga the document outlines the lives of the earls of Orkney and how they came about their earldom. Woolf suggests that the task that the Icelandic compiler was faced with was not dissimilar to trying to write a "history of the Second World War on the basis of Hollywood movies", he notes that a problem with medieval Icelandic historiography in general is the difficulty of fixing of a clear chronology based on stories created in a illiterate society in which "AD dating was unknown" at the time. As the narrative approaches the period closer to the time it was written down, historians have greater confidence in its accuracy. For example, there are significant family connections between Snorri Sturluson and Earl Harald Maddadsson and the original saga document was written down at about the time of Harald's death. Vigassun identifies several different components to the saga, which may have had different authors and date from different periods.
These are: Fundinn Noregr chapters 1–3 Iarla Sogur chapters 4–38 St Magnus saga chapters 39–55 Iarteina-bok chapter 60 The History of Earl Rognwald and Swain Asleifsson chapters 56–59 and 61–118. A Danish translation dating to 1570 indicates that the original version of the saga ended with the death of Sweyn Asleifsson, killed fighting in Dublin in 1171. Various additions were added circa 1234-5 when a grandson of Asleifsson and a lawmaker called Hrafn visited Iceland; the oldest complete text is found in the late 14th century Flateyjarbók but the first translation into English did not appear until 1873. The first three chapters of the saga are a brief folk legend that sets the scene for events, it commences with characters associated with the elements – Snaer, Logi and Frosti and gives a unique explanation for how Norway came to be named as such, involving Snaer's grandson Nór. There is a reference to claiming land by dragging a boat over a neck of land and the division of the land between Nór and his brother Gór, a recurring theme in the saga.
This legend gives the Orkney jarls an origin involving a giant and king called Fornjót who lived in the far north. This distinguishes them from the Norwegian kings as described in the Ynglingatal and may have been intended to give the jarls a more senior and more Nordic ancestry. Having dealt with the mythical ancestry of the earls, the saga moves on to topics that are intended as genuine history; the next few chapters deal with the creation of the Earldom of Orkney. The saga states that Rognvald Eysteinsson was made the Earl of Møre by the King of Norway, Harald Fairhair. Rognvald accompanied the king on a great military expedition. First the islands of Shetland and Orkney were cleared of vikings, raiding Norway and they continued on to Scotland and the Isle of Man. During this campaig