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Introduction and General Acknowledgments: Inaugural St. Magnus Conference
Andrew Jennings and Alexandra Sanmark

Journal of the North Atlantic, Special Volume 4 (2013): 1–2

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1 A. Jennings and A. Sanmark 2013 Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 4 This collection of diverse papers constitutes the legacy of the Inaugural St. Magnus Conference, held at the Centre for Nordic Studies, UHI, in Kirkwall, Orkney’s Royal Burgh, on the 14th and 15th April 2011. This 2-day international conference was structured around the theme of the cultural and historical links between Scotland and Scandinavia. Papers were delivered by speakers from fourteen countries including Scotland, the UK more generally, Canada, and the Nordic World. The date was chosen to coincide with the Feast of St. Magnus, the native saint of the Orkney and a popular figure throughout the Norse Atlantic settlements. The conference proved to be a major event, with more than one hundred participants. The conference was organized by the recently created University of the Highlands and Islands’ Centre for Nordic Studies (CNS). The Centre is the result of collaboration between Orkney and Shetland Councils, amongst others, and the passionate, indefatigable advocacy of Prof. Donna Heddle, the Centre’s Director. The Centre has two foci, one in Kirkwall, Orkney and the other in Scalloway, Shetland, whence it carries out research and specialized teaching in Highlands and Islands Literature and Culture, Viking Studies, Island Studies, and Orkney and Shetland Studies—locative studies that are particularly pertinent to the communities of Northern Scotland. These communities are identified in a Scottish context primarily in terms of their Nordic cultural and linguistic heritage. The Inaugural St. Magnus Conference and these resultant papers reflect this heritage and the desire to renew and build new networks and connections between Scotland and Scandinavia. The attendance of many Scandinavians at the conference highlighted the goodwill that bridges the Sólundarhaf, the Old Norse name for the Norwegian Sea. The title of the first day of the Conference Program was “Norroway ower the Faem” (Norway over the foam). This phrase was taken from the Scottish traditional ballad of Sir Patrick Spens, who tragically drowned on his return voyage to Scotland from Norway. According to the ballad, the ill-fated Spens still lies at the bottom of the sea, “with the Scots Lords at his feet”. This day focused on the intimate contacts which have linked the two nations of Scotland and Norway over the last 1200 years. The second day focused more particularly on the cultural, religious, and historical connections between “Nordic” Scotland, namely Orkney and Shetland, and Scandinavia. These islands maintained a Norse cultural heritage longer than any other part of Scotland or the UK. A Scandinavian language in these archipelagos finally died out in the 18th century after nearly a millennium of use in the community. This volume contains a selection of the papers presented at the Conference. These papers exhibit an admirable breadth and depth of scholarship, and they reflect the range of research presently being undertaken into the many aspects of the connections between the British Isles and Scandinavia. The papers fall neatly into six categories. These include four papers on the interactions between the Norse and Gaels, including a paper on a 16th-century conflict between Gaels and Shetlanders. There are three papers concerned with exploring the trade and cultural connections maintained between the Northern Isles and the wider world. These manuscripts focus on the islands’ important geopolitical position situated as they are between the North Sea and the Atlantic. There are three papers dealing with the close medieval religious connections that existed between Scandinavia and Britain, including one focusing on the origins of the cult of St. Knud. Four papers explore the Northern Isles in the Viking Age, when Orkney had a particularly central role, lying at the heart of the sailing route between Norway and Ireland. Literary connections generated five papers. Norse themes have proved particularly important to local writers in the Northern Isles, such as George Mackay Brown, who reimagined the Norse world for a modern audience. Finally, there are two papers on the landscape of Scotland and Norway. The landscapes of these two countries have many similarities, stemming from the time when they belonged to the same mountain range created during the Caledonian orogeny. Introduction and General Acknowledgments: Inaugural St. Magnus Conference Andrew Jennings1 and Alexandra Sanmark2 Across the Sólundarhaf: Connections between Scotland and the Nordic World Selected Papers from the Inaugural St. Magnus Conference 2011 Journal of the North Atlantic 1Centre for Nordic Studies, University of the Highlands and Islands, NAFC Marine Centre, Port Arthur, Scalloway, Shetland, ZE1 0UN; andrew.jennings@uhi.ac.uk. 2Centre for Nordic Studies, University of the Highlands and Islands, Kirkwall, Orkney KW15 1QX; alexandra.sanmark@uhi.ac.uk. 2013 Special Volume 4:1–2 A. Jennings and A. Sanmark 2013 Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 4 2 General Acknowledgments The Centre for Nordic Studies is very grateful for the financial support provided by the European Social Fund, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Orkney Islands Council, and the Shetland Islands Council. We would also like to express our gratitude to Magnus Fladmark, Professor Emeritus for the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment for providing a public lecture in the St. Magnus Cathedral. This event, sponsored by The Norwegian Consulate in Edinburgh, was preceded by a performance by The Orkney Schola, the Orkney-based Gregorian chant choir. Thanks also go to The Swedish Embassy in London, who provided a bursary for a Swedish participant and to Highland Park Whisky Distillery for encouraging the flow of ideas. Conference Delegates Matthias Ammon, UK Martin Arnold, UK Þorbjörg Arnorsdóttir, Iceland Steve Ashby, UK Maja Bäckvall, UK David Baker, UK John Baldwin, UK Poul Baltzer Heide, Denmark Bjørn Bandlien, Norway Audrey Beaudouin, Norway Lynn Campbell, UK Phil Cardew, UK Edward Carlsson Browne, UK Barbara Crawford, UK Victoria Cribb, UK Ian Crockatt. UK Juliet Crussell, UK Sarah De Rees, UK Gaston Demarée, Belgium Denise Dick, Canada Lauren Doughton, UK Jennica Einebrant Svensson, Sweden Erin Farley, UK Christopher Finn, UK Helena Forsås-Scott, UK Peder Gammeltoft, Denmark Sheila Garson, UK Paul Gazzoli, UK Bobby Gear, UK Christopher Gee, UK Richard Gibson, UK David Grant, UK David Griffiths, UK Ian Peter Grohse, Norway Jonathan Grove, UK Jan Ragnar Hagland, Norway Jane Harrison, UK Donna Heddle, UK Jacqueline Hughes, UK Tom Hughes, UK Judith Jesch, UK Andrew Jennings, UK Anne Johnson, UK Michael Jones, Norway Christian Keller, Norway Karen Kiluk, UK Arne Kruse, UK Deborah Lamb, UK Alison Leonard, UK Brydon Leslie, UK Ragnhild Ljosland, UK Joerg-Henner Lotze, USA Alan Macniven, UK Mary Malcolm, UK Mikael Males, Norway Caz Mamwell, UK Rebecca Marr, UK Ann Marwick, UK Andrew McDonald, Canada Stacey Morris, Canada Alison Munro, UK Steve Murdoch, UK Jenny Murray, UK Astrid Ogilvie, USA Janette Park, UK Gavin Parsons, UK Sarah Linden Pasay, Sweden Russell Poole, Canada Rosemary Power, Ireland Silke Reeploeg, UK Tom Rendall, UK Linda Riddell, UK Helen J Robinson, UK Berit Sandnes, Sweden Alexandra Sanmark, UK Michael Schulte, Norway Eoin Scott, UK John Shafer, UK Joanne Shortt Butler, UK Marteinn Sigurdsson, Denmark Brian Smith, UK Angus Somerville, Canada Bill Spence, UK Alicia Spencer-Hall, UK Kenneth Stander, UK Frans-Arne Stylegar, Norway Anneli Sundkvist, Sweden Karen L Syse, Norway William Thomson, UK Fjölnir Torfason, Iceland Ragnheiður Traustadóttir, Iceland Catherine Turnbull, UK Mary Wakeling, UK Susan Walker, UK David O M Wedderburn, UK Ben Whitworth, UK Victoria Whitworth, UK Kathrin Zickermann, UK Henrik Ågren, Sweden