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Church was built; but it was quite natural that, so far northwards, it should be retained somewhat longer, especially as the architect was a native of the still more northern country of Norway.
The next considerable portion of the cathedral which might possibly have been built by Kol and Ragnvald, or at least about their time, and which includes the transepts, the two western pillars of the tower, and the six pillars (three on each side) farther towards the west, has, indeed, like the very oldest part, round arches. But in these, as well as in the whole architecture, a much later style is clearly visible. It is, as we have said, doubtful whether this part of the church is also to be ascribed to Kol and Ragnvald. "Supposing that it is (says Sir Henry Dryden, in a letter accompanying the drawings), I explain the difference of scale and workmanship thus. Ronald began a church on a much smaller scale than the present St. Magnus. He became short of money, alienated seignorial rights in Orkney, got plenty of money, and went on with the church on a larger scale, and with better workmen than before. But (adds Sir Henry), though I spent eighteen weeks at the building, and have thought over the thing many times, I cannot make out the history of the building to my own satisfaction. There is no doubt that there is a great deal of copying in it; i. e., of building at one time in the style of an earlier one. In Scotland the semicircular arch is used in all styles, down to the year 1600." In the additions made to St. Magnus' Church to the east and west, in the sixteenth century, round arches are also found between the chief pillars.
In the winter of 1263-1264 the body of the Norwegian king Hakon Hakonson was deposited in the cathedral; and somewhat more than twenty years afterwards the Norwegian princess Margaret (the maid of Norway), daughter of King Erik, the priest-hater, and of Margaret, daughter of the Scotch King, Alexander the Third, was buried in it. Upon the death of Alexander, her mother's father, in 1289, Margaret, though only seven years of age, became queen of Scotland, but died in Orkney on her passage from Norway, in 1290. The cathedral naturally received the dust of most of the Norwegian jarls, bishops, and other mighty men, so long as the Norwegian dynasty lasted; but for their monuments we now seek in vain. By the alterations and rebuilding in the interior of the church they have all been long since destroyed.
For a Scandinavian, the church derives its greatest interest not only from the fact that it was founded, and partly built, by a Norwegian jarl, but more particularly from the circumstance that a Norwegian chief, the layman Kol, is expressly stated to have been the person "who was chiefly answerable for the building, and determined how everything should be." For we thus find on the British Islands, and far towards the North, a manifestation of the same desire to build splendid churches and convents, which farther southwards, as for instance in Normandy, so vividly animated the Christian descendants of the emigrant Vikings. The oldest part of St. Magnus' Church will, on a close inspection, show not a few resemblances to several of the nearly contemporary, but somewhat older, Norman churches in Normandy.
Pentland Firth.—The Highlands.—Caithness.—Sutherland.—
The Orkneys are separated towards the south from the most northern part of the Scotch Highlands by a firth about eight miles in breadth, called Pentland Firth (Old N., PetlandfjorSr, the fiord of the land of the Picts ?). The maelstrom, or whirlpool, in this firth, where the currents from the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean meet, is at least as violent and dangerous as the "Bost," so famed in ancient times, between the Orkneys and Shetland. Even in calm weather the meeting currents raise the waves A
to an astonishing height, so that at times the whole firth is one sheet of white foam. If it happens that the current runs hard against the wind, or if a severe storm blows, it would not be advisable for any vessel to venture out into the firth. In the gales of winter, particularly from the north-west, the sea rises to such a height where the huge swell of the Atlantic is inclosed between the Orkneys and Scotland, and beats against the coast with such force, that the foam is driven far into the country, even over cliffs that stand more than four hundred feet above the sea! The Island of Stroma (Old N., "Straumsey"), which has obtained its name from the current, lies [about the middle of the firth; and by the eastern entrance of it are the Islands of Pentlandskerries (Old N., "Petlandsker;" or Danish, "Pentlandskjsere;" Eng., sunken rocks off the Pentland Firth), near which the waves form whirlpools that are still called by the inhabitants "Swelchies" (or Svselg: Old N., "Svelgr;" Eng., gulf).
The old Sagas, indeed, expressly point out the dangers of the Pentland Firth. Thus, when Olaf Trygveson came from the West to the Orkneys with the intention of Christianizing the islands, he was obliged to run into the harbour of Asmundarvag (now Osmondwall) in the south of Hoy, because Pentland Firth was not navigable; and on the return of King Hakon Hakonson from the Hebrides in 1263, one of his ships was lost in the Rost, and another escaped only with the greatest difficulty. Nevertheless the ancient Norwegians and Danes navigated this dangerous firth regularly, and do not seem to have considered it as forming any real boundary between the Orkneys and Scotland. At an early period the Norwegians had settled themselves along the south coast of the Pentland Firth, and founded colonies there which soon became so preponderatiugly Norwegian that they might almost be regarded as inseparable parts of the Orkney jarldom. On this account the two most northern counties of Scotland, both of which united originally bore the Gaelic name of Catuibh,