The research behind the St Magnus Way pilgrimage route

Dr Sarah Jane Gibbon, a researcher and lecturer at the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, features in a new video outlining the St Magnus Way pilgrimage route project in Orkney.

Part-funded by LEADER, the Saint Magnus Way is a 55-mile pilgrimage walk that is based on stories that tell of the route which the body of Earl Magnus Erlendsson was taken, after his martyrdom on the Orkney island of Egilsay and the processional route of his shrine.

The project began in October 2015, and, after money was raised and funding secured, the walk was launched in five sections from Easter to December 2017 – part of a year-long series of events to mark the 900th anniversary of St Magnus’ death.

Dr Gibbon, whose has researched the archaeology of pilgrimage and the cult of St Magnus, was involved in the project from the start.

“I was asked to provide an assessment of the history and archaeology of St Magnus in Orkney to help in the establishment of the St Magnus Way,” explained Dr Gibbon.

“This research benefitted from a UHI mini sabbatical in 2017/18 and fed into the UHI Archaeology Institute’s Mapping Magnus project, the 2019 paper Storyways: Visualising Saintly Impact in a North Atlantic Maritime Landscape, I co-authored with Dr James Moore and my paper on the Ladykirk Stone, published in volume eight of the New Orkney Antiquarian Journal in 2019.

“I am continuing my research in this area, finalising the second paper from my sabbatical research on the materiality of pilgrimage with specific reference to red sandstone and the Orkney Cult of St Magnus.”