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castle for a long time, in order, if possible, to cut off their supply of provisions, and thus compel them to surrender; for, by force, says the Saga, the castle could scarcely be taken. But Harald at last became weary of the siege, and concluded an agreement with Erlend that he should have Margaret to wife on condition of swearing fealty to him as jarl.
This old and venerable tower has, therefore, not only been the scene of sanguinary battles and deeds of cruelty, but its strong walls have also afforded a secure asylum to sincere and all-sacrificing love.
The Orkneys.—" pingavollr."—Monuments of the Olden Time.— Kirkwall.—St. Magnus Church.
The Orkneys, on account of their greater fertility, and of their lying nearer to Scotland, were in ancient times, as indeed they are at present, of much more importance than the distant Shetland Isles. As the chief seat of the Norwegian jarls, they formed the central point of the Norwegian power in the north of Scotland. According to the Sagas, most of the many Danes and Norwegians who settled on the islands to the north of Scotland, resorted to the" Orkneys; by which means, the jarls who governed them were enabled easily to assemble large fleets, and to man them with picked Scandinavian warriors. It was chiefly, therefore, Norwegians from the Orkneys, who, under the command of the jarls of Orkney, made such extensive conquests in the territories of the Scottish kings.
Jarl Sigurd the Stout (Dan.., Digre), who, as before mentioned, was married to a daughter of the Scotch king, Malcolm the Second, and Jarl Thorfin, his son by King Malcolm's daughter, pre-eminently distinguished themselves by bold Viking expeditions into the neighbouring countries, and particularly by their conquests on the Scotch coast. They extended these as far south as Moray; nay it is even said that at times they went as low as to the Firth of Forth. Thorfin was the last of the jarls of Orkney in whom the old Scandinavian Vikings' spirit lived and stirred. His power was greater than that of any of his predecessors or successors; for he ruled, say the Sagas, over no fewer than eleven earldoms (Jarledommer) in Scotland, over all the Hebrides, and a large kingdom in Ireland. But after the many warlike expeditions, raids, and incendiarisms, in which he had played a part, he at length became penitent, and undertook a journey through Denmark and Saxony to Rome, where the pope gave him an indulgence for his sins. After his return, he governed his kingdom peacefully till his death, which took place about the year 1064. Notwithstanding that a new and Christian ffira had irresistibly established itself under this fierce Viking, the Orkneys continued for more than a century after his death to foster men who were Christians only in name, but in reality, both in their way of thinking and conduct, were heathen Vikings. Svend Asleifstin, who, in the middle of the twelfth century, lived on the little island of Gairsay (Gareksey), close to the north-east side of Mainland, occupies a prominent place among these Vikings. He was surrounded by a band of eighty men, with whom in the winter he remained at home in his mansion, living well on the booty that had been won. In the spring, after seed-time, he set out with them on expeditions to the Scotch, English, and Irish coasts. In the autumn he returned home for a short time, in order to gather the corn into his barns; and then again set out and harried the before-mentioned countries until the beginning of winter. On one of these autumnal Viking expeditions he even took Dublin; but whilst he fancied himself secure, the inhabitants suddenly fell upon and killed him, together with a great number of his men, who defended themselves with the utmost bravery.
In consequence of these important Viking expeditions, as well as of the greater life and bustle which prevailed in the Orkneys, not only are more historical accounts preserved of them than of the Shetland Isles, but they likewise exhibit more conspicuously how the warlike spirit of the Scandinavian population, when it began to be curbed by Christianity and the abandonment of piratical expeditions, preyed upon itself, and exhausted its strength in sanguinary internal conflicts. Memorials of this are found on almost all the islands. In going from Shetland, the first island made after passing Fairhill, and when approach^ ing the proper group of the Orkneys, namely, North Ronaldshay (" Rinansey"), was the scene of a terrible revenge taken by Jarl Einar on King Harald Haarfager's son, Halfdan Haaleg (Long-legs), who had murdered Einar's father, Ragnvald Morejarl, in Norway. Jarl Einar is said to have avenged his father in the same manner as, according to the Saga, the sons of Regner Lodbrog punished their father's murderer, King Ella of Northumberland; namely, by cutting a blood eagle on Halfdan's back. At Lopnes (" Laupandaness "), in the neighbouring island of Sanday (" Sandey "), Jarl Einar Sigurdson was killed in the following century (the eleventh) by Thorkel Fostre, so called because he had brought up, or fostered, Einar's brother, subsequently the famed Thorfin Jarl. Not long afterwards, Thorfin's nephew, Jarl Ragnvald Bruseson, was killed by the same Thorkel on Little Papa Island (" Papey"), to the north-west of Sanday. Thorkel and Thorfin had previously surrounded and set fire to the house, wherein the jarl was with his men. The jarl's corpse was then conveyed to and buried on the neighbouring isle of Papa Westray (" Papey hin meiri," the Great Pap Island), adjacent to Westray (" Vestrey ") and the most northern of all the Orkneys. Thorkel Fletter, surnamed the restless, was burnt in his house in Eday (" EiSey "), in the twelfth century; and in the year 1137 the Jarl Paal was surprised by Svend Asleifsbn on Rowsay (" Rolfsey "), and carried away prisoner to Athol, in Scotland. About twenty years previously (1110) the celebrated jarl, Magnus Erlendson, was attacked and murdered by his kinsman, Jarl Hakon Paalson, on the adjacent island of Egilshay, (•' Egilsey "). In honour of Magnus, who was afterwards canonized, and became the patron saint of the Orkneys, a church was built on Egilshay, which still exists, though in a somewhat altered form.
Between the last-named islands and Mainland are the small isles Enhallow (" Eyin helga," the holy isle) and Wire (" Vigr "). On the latter Kolbein Ruga had, in the twelfth century, a castle, the site of whose ramparts can still be clearly distinguished. But Mainland itself is naturally the island with which the most numerous and remarkable memorials of the Norwegian dominion are associated. For centuries numberless Vikiugs' fleets constantly rode at anchor in its bays and in the adjacent straits; and almost every spot on the island is famous in the Orkneyinga Saga^s having been the residence of some distinguished man, or the scene of some important historical event. The numerous Norwegian names of places ending in wall (vagr), wick, firth, ness, buster, toft, holm, and so forth, which are everywhere met with in the island, do not, however, merit particular consideration, since they resemble those in the rest of the Orkneys and Shetland Isles; yet they serve to establish that the Norwegians must have superseded here, no less than in the other islands, the older Celtic population. We soon discover that the vicinity of the Orkneys to Scotland, and their brisk intercourse with that kingdom, as well as with England, have contributed, both in Mainland and in the surrounding islands, to do away with many of those names of places which are still found in Shetland as witnesses of the old Norwegian judicial institutions. Thus we should look in vain in Mainland for that "pingavollr," or Tingvalla, which anciently was the chief Thing place of the island, as is expressly mentioned in old records. We should be just - as unsuccessful in finding traces of the lesser Things, which, in Shetland, as we have seen, can almost all be still pointed out in the names of places; and this notwithstanding we know for a certainty that the Orkneys had a court of justice in common with Shetland, till the year 1196 at least; from which time Shetland was governed by its own laws. The same powerful Scottish influence has likewise effaced in the Orkneys most of the few Norwegian words, customs, and manners which still sustain a feeble existence in the remote islands of Shetland. The Norwegian language, some vestiges of which might be traced, in the last century, in the parish of Haray (Heraft), has left behind it only a peculiar singing pronunciation, and some few characteristics in the English language now in use there; thus, for instance, in addressing a person, the nominative and accusative thou and thee are used, instead of you. The present language of the Orkneys is almost a purer English than that of the Scotch Lowlands; which is a natural consequence of English having begun at a later period to be the ruling language in the islands. The present population of Mainland, together with the other inhabitants of the Orkneys, has undeniably preserved a certain Scandinavian appearance; and English civilization has, among other things, both sharpened the people's innate inclination for a maritime life, and increased their coolness towards, not to say ill-will and contempt for, the Gaelic Highlanders. On the whole, however, Scandinavian characteristics are by no means conspicuous among the people. English civilization, and Scotch-English institutions, have been introduced to such a degree into Mainland, and thence into the other islands, that a traveller would not know he was in the chief country of the former mighty Norwegian jarls, unless he were able to decipher the frequently transformed names of places; or, above all, unless he had such a general knowledge of the island's history and antiquities that he could apprehend, and in some degree interpret, the hints given by silent monuments of the brilliant but long-departed age of heroes.