Mapping Magnus: visualising saintly impact in a North Atlantic rural landscape

Activity: Talk / Presentation / Podcast / WebinarOral presentation


This paper will present a methodological approach which allows the spatial and temporal veneration of a saint to be explored in the landscape using Saint Magnus of Orkney as a case study. Saint Magnus was martyred in Orkney in c.1117 and by 1135 had been canonised by the local bishop. His cult spread throughout the Nordic world, with his feast day being officially recognised in Norway, Iceland, Denmark and Scotland. Dedications, altars and church furnishings further demonstrate his international recognition, but aside from three Magnus dedicated churches, there is little known of his veneration within the local landscapes of Orkney. By collating a wide range of evidence (archaeological, onomastic, folkloric, historic, hagiographic) to form a dataset of Cultural Remains of veneration, the impact of Magnus on the community since his martyrdom to the present day can be mapped. By creating a means of differentiating between sources the variability and variety of evidence can be distinguished, thus allowing concentrated pockets of veneration through time to be identified as well as areas where his impact is no longer evidenced. Furthermore, by linking the Cultural Remains, ‘remembered’ processional and pilgrimage routes can be identified. In doing so, the impact of belief in Magnus as a saint and his continuing influence as a symbol of Orcadian identity can be visually demonstrated.
Period19 Sept 2018
Event title5th International Landscape Archaeology Conference
Event typeConference
LocationNewcastle, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational