Orkney Islands Council
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Magnus900 off to fitting start

Magnus900 off to fitting start
12 April 2017

Events this Easter weekend to launch a programme commemorating the martyrdom of St Magnus 900 years ago look set to create a fitting tribute to Orkney’s very own saint, with some activities already fully booked.

Magnus900 kicks off with a re-enactment of the martyrdom of St Magnus this Saturday on Egilsay.

The event has proved popular, with all spaces on 08:40 sailing to Egilsay and 13:35 return now taken.

Those lucky enough to be present at the live roleplay – which takes place 900 years since Magnus’s murder at the hands of Earl Haakon - will take on the persona of a medieval person from 1117, experiencing everything as one of Haakon or Magnus’ crew. The re-enactment is being staged under the guidance of Ragnhild Ljosland from the Centre for Nordic Studies, as part of Magnus 900.

Also fully booked is the performance of a newly commissioned foy 'A Jar of Light', written by Pam Beasant which will take place at Birsay Hall on Saturday evening. The evening will be accompanied by a traditional Orkney supper and music by Kirsty Drever and Jake Watson, Camron Dowell and members of the Song Shop Choir.

For those who haven’t been able to secure a place at the above events, there’s plenty more to see and do in a packed weekend of free activities to formally launch the Magnus 900 programme.

Antony Mottershead, the Council’s Arts Officer, said: “We’re delighted with the response to the launch events – they have really captured the imagination of local people and it’s shaping up to be quite a weekend.

“There’s a whole range of events on offer over that weekend and I hope that folk who aren’t able to come to the fully booked events will pop along to these other events and help celebrate and promote the story of Orkney’s very own saint.”

On the afternoon of Saturday 15 April 7 Waves, a new artwork by Erlend Brown and Dave Jackson which takes as its inspiration George Mackay Browns’s Tryst on Egilsay, at St Magnus Church in Birsay.

Sunday 16 April sees the official launch of the St Magnus Way – a new 53 mile pilgrimage route through the West Mainland. A 4 mile ‘taster’ route departing the Broch of Gurness will give folk a chance to experience the route for the first time. Sunday will conclude with the 21st annual St Magnus Day service at St Magnus Church Birsay.

Monday 17 April gives the option of walking, in full, the first leg of the St Magnus Way – from the Broch of Gurness to Birsay. The 12.5 mile route takes in some of Orkney’s most spectacular coastline and walkers will arrive in Birsay in time for a very special visual arts, music and literature programme The Inspiration of Magnus hosted at the St Magnus Church, with performances by Shona McInnes, Alison Gray, Gaby Barnby and many more.

Other programme highlights from the Easter weekend include:

  • Sunday 16 April - Easter Sunday Service: St Magnus Cathedral, 11:15.
  • Sails of St Magnus: St Magnus Cathedral – free to view from Easter Sunday onwards
  • Monday 17 April – For The Journey and Return - Artist Beatrice Searle will join us on the first leg of the St Magnus Way as she begins her epic pilgrimage with The Orkney Boat. The walk departs the Broch of Gurness at 10:00.

All events are free.

Full programme and event information is available on the Magnus 900 website https://magnus900.co.uk/

Magnus 900 is an Orkney wide cultural programme of events, activities, performances, education and research to commemorate St Magnus and explore the contemporary relevance of the Magnus story today. It is coordinated by Orkney Islands Council with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery. The project will see a range of special events held throughout 2017 at several of Orkney’s regular festivals including the Orkney Folk Festival, the St Magnus International Festival, the Orkney International Science Festival and the Orkney Storytelling Festival.