St Magnus Day 2024

St Magnus Day 2024

"St Magnus, Earl of Orkney, was a man of extraordinary distinction, tall, with a fine, intelligent look about him. He was a man of strict virtue, successful in war, wise, eloquent, generous and magnanimous, open-handed with money, sound with advice and altogether the most popular of men." - ORKNEYJAR

Here at Orkney Distilling, we are fiercely proud of our Viking history and Norse heritage and even after all these years Orkney’s Viking legacy today, remains strong and is reflected in so many of our island place names and embodied by our iconic Cathedral of St Magnus – Britain’s most Northerly Cathedral.

Today marks St Magnus Day

The 16th of April has long been celebrated in honour of Magnus, the Earl who was murdered by his cousin Hakon in 1117, at what was initially intended to be a peace meeting, on the isle of Egilsay, Orkney.

In 1137, roughly 20 years after Magnus' death, and shortly after he was sainted, work began on our iconic Cathedral - built from red and yellow sandstone and founded by the Viking Earl Rognvald in honour of his Uncle St Magnus. When the cathedral had been developed far enough to receive consecration, the relics of St Magnus were transferred from the parish of Birsay into the new building in Kirkwall.

There they remained, unknown in a hidden cavity until they were found in 1919 during extensive renovations. Within this cavity was a wooden box containing a damaged skull and other bones. These remains were soon declared by the experts of the day to indeed be those of Magnus Erlendsson - Orkney's saint. His bones are now interred within a pillar in the cathedral.

Statue of St Magnus erected inside Kirkwall’s Cathedral
‘St Magnus Cathedral known as the ‘Light in the North’ was founded in 1137. The Cathedral belongs to the people of Orkney and its doors are open to all.’ – Fraser Macnaughton, Cathedral Minister
St Magnus Cathedral, Broad Street, Kirkwall
When planning your next trip to Orkney (and after you’ve stopped in at The Orkney Distillery to see us of course!) be sure to schedule a stop to visit our historic Cathedral or include it as part of your journey along the St Magnus Way – the perfect adventure across several of Orkney’s stunning walking trails.

The St Magnus Way is a 55-mile pilgrimage trail that features six separate stages. Taking in majestic seascapes, rolling farmland, bustling villages and the serene coastline of Scapa Flow, it all ends at St Magnus Cathedral - a stunning site to conclude your Orkney odyssey.

The Way was put together in 2017, marking the 900th anniversary of the martyrdom of Magnus. The route follows part of the journey his body was taken on, after his death on the island of Egilsay. It also takes in other sites that play a major part in the St Magnus story.

Visit to find out more about the St Magnus Way.

Kirkjuvagr Orkney Gin bottles

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