Middle Primary trip to St Magnus Cathedral


In the 1st of May P3-5 went on the boat to Kirkwall to see St Magnus Cathedral. It has been 900 years since St Magnus got an axe to his head, so we are doing a project on St Magnus. We are learning his story, and then we are going to retell it in cravendale boxes (we are going to make scenes inside the boxes and have a little peep hole that you can see through into them).

We heard the story about St Magnus in the Cathedral.

St Magnus was a Christian saint. He had a cousin called Hakon who hated him. They were meant to rule Orkney together, but Hakon wanted to rule by himself. Magnus was a Christian and he wanted peace. When he was in a battle once, he didn’t fight, he just sat singing hymns. But Hakon was a more traditional Viking warrior, so they had quite different approaches!

Hakon got sent to Norway, and everything settled down. But then Hakon came back, and they arranged to meet up in Eglisay to talk about how to rule Orkney together. They were each meant to bring two ships and all their soldiers unarmed, with no weapons. Magnus came with two ships, but Hakon had eight! And he had lots of soldiers with weapons. When they met up Hakon said “one of us must die today”. Magnus said “you don’t need to kill me, just make me blind or lock me up in a cell, because death is a bad sin”. Hakon asked his chef, Lifolf, to kill Magnus with an axe. Magnus said “hit me on the head, so I don’t die like a common thief”. Hakon buried him in Egilsay, but his mum wanted him to be buried in a proper Church, and Hakon let her take his bones away to do that.

Years later, a man called Rognavald (you say it Ronald, but really his actual name was Kali!) wanted to celebrate Magnus, so he built a large beautiful Cathedral in Kirkwall, and they took St Magnus’ bones and put them in a grave there.

During the reformation, Scotland changed from being Catholic to Protestant. Catholics liked Saints a lot, but Protestants didn’t, and people were told to burn or destroy the bones. St Magnus’ bones were taken out of his grave, and everybody thought they had been burned. Then years later people in the Cathedral found a wiggly stone, and they took it out, and they found a box with St Magnus’ bones in it! There was a skull with an axe hole in it, so they knew it was it him. Today the bones are still in the wall, in a new box.

After hearing the story we did some sketching and took some photos of the Cathedral. It was beautiful! Then we went to have lunch in the town hall. After that we played for a while in Tankerness Gardens because it was so sunny. We played hide and seek in the gardens and we climbed on the rocks and we hid in the trees and bushes.

In the afternoon we went to the library to continue our world book day theme. We had a tour of the library and we got to spin the big wheels that moved the book shelves, and we saw Sally the librarian’s office, and we got to see where the library van was kept. We also saw some dead butterflies in a drawer! After that we got the St Magnus story read to us again! We are not going to tell you it again because we just wrote it all out. Then we had silent reading time.

The last thing we did on our trip was go to Dealz! We bought sweets and toys. Lots of people bought brain liquor, which when you lick it your tongue and teeth turn blue! Tom spent ages rummaging in the hot wheels cars looking for the ones he wanted to buy.

On the boat on the way home we looked out of the window and saw the kirk where St Magnus was first buried.

It was a really sunny and fun day!

By Finlay Risbridger (P3) Harry Seatter (P4) and Ellie Cowe (P5)

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