Icelandic Sagas Vol. 3
ADDENDA TO THE ORKNEYINGERS' SAGA
FROM THE FLATEY BOOK.
When bishop William the latter was dead, Bjarni son of Kolbein the burly was consecrated to be bishop after him, and he was one of the greatest chiefs and a dear friend of earl Harold. Bishop Bjarni had a great stock of kinsmen in the isles. The sons of Eric staybrails were these: Harold the young, and Magnus mannikin, and Rognvald. Those brothers fared east to Norway to find king Magnus Erling's son, and he gave Harold the title of earl and half the isles, just as the saint earl Rognvald his mother's father had held them. Earl Harold the young fared west across the sea, and with him Sigurd mannikin, the son of Ivar the bitter. The mother of Ivar was a daughter of Havard Gunni's son; that Ivar fell at Akkra with Erling wryneck. Sigurd mannikin was young of years and the most promising of men, and most showy in his dress. Magnus nobody stayed behind with the king, and fell with him in Sogn. They came first to Shetland, and thence fared to Caithness, and so up into Scotland to find William the Scot-king. Earl Harold begged that William would give him half of Caithness, just as earl Rognvald, had held it. The king granted him that. Thence earl Harold fared down to Caithness, and gathered force together thence. Then came to him Lifolf bald-pate, his brother in law; he had there many noble men of those who were his kinsfolk. Lifolf had to wife Ragnhilda the earl's sister. This [Harold]was called earl Harold the young, (10) but Harold Maddad's son [was called] the old. Lifolf had most to do with his plans of all the earl's followers. They made men go out into the Orkneys to find earl Harold the old, and begged that he would give up half the isles as the king had granted them to earl Harold the young. But when those words came before the earl, then he refused short off to share his realm by any such settlement. Then Lifold bald-pate went on the same journey, and the earl threatened him very much ere he went away. Earl Harold the old drew force together after that, and got about him a very great band of men. Earl Harold the young and his men were in Caithness, and had gathered some men there. When they heard that earl Harold the old was gathering force, then they sent Lifolf again afresh north over the Pentland firth to spy out about the host. He ran in from the east to Rognvaldsey, and went up there on the fell, and found there three warders of earl Harold the old, and two they slew, but had one with them to ask the news. Lifolf saw then the earl's host too, and he had many ships, and most of them big. Then Lifolf turned down from the fell and took to his ship, and told his messmates such tidings as he had become ware of. He said that earl Harold had so large a host, that it was no good teir fighting with him. "It is my counsel," says Lifolf, "that we fare this very day north into Thurso, and there we shall gather a great force today. But if ye will run out to battle with earl Harold, then that is the greatest risk, however ye set about it." Then Sigurd mannikin took up the word, and said: "In an evil hour hath the earl's brother in law fared over the Pentland firth, when he hath left his heart behind him," and said it was a sorry outlook if all were to become heartless as soon as ever they saw old Harold's host. Lifolf answered: "'Tis hard to see, Sigurd, where each man keeps his heart, if there is need to call on it. I ween that hour on which I run from young Harold, that ye fine men with your braveries will find it hard work to stand behind." But nothing came of the voyage to Thurso. But a little while after they saw earl Harold's fleet of ships sailing away from Rognvaldsey; then they busked them for battle. Earl Harold [the old] went on shore, and drew up his men in array; he had a far greater host. Those, Sigurd mannikin and Lifolf, drew up the young earl's host. Sigurd mannikin was in a red scarlet kirtle, and he tucked in the skirts under his belt. Some men said that he should do so at his back too. He bade them not turn the skirts up, "for I shall have to go straight forward today." Each of these [Lifolf and Sigurd] was at his own wing of the battle. And when they had drawn up their band the fight was joined, and was very hard and hot. In earl Harold the old's force were many of the toughest and hardest men, they who were mighty men of valour and very well boun, as were the bishop's kinsfolk and many other of the chiefs of the earl's train. When the battle had stood a while Sigurd mannikin fell, and he had fought well and manfully. Lifolf, of all the other men, went best forward. So say the Caithness men, that he went thrice through earl Harold the old's battle array, but still at last he fell in that fight with good fame. When they were both fallen, Lifolf and Sigurd mannikin, flight broke out among the force of the young earl. Earl Harold the young fell by some turf ditches; then at once at night was seen a great light where his blood had fallen. They call the earl a very saint, and there is now a church where he fell, and he is buried there on the Ness, and untold tokens are granted of God to be done for his worthiness' sake; and that shows clearly that he wished to go over to the Orkneys to his kinsmen earl Magnus and earl Rognvald. After the battle earl Harold laid under him all Caithness, and fared at once out to the Orkneys and boasted of a great victory. (11)
William the Scot-king heard that earl Harold was fallen, and that too how earl Harold Maddad's son had laid under him all Caithness, and had not asked his leave. At this the Scot-king was very wrath, and sends men into the Southern isles to Rognvalds Godred's son, the king of the Southern isles. Godred's mother was Ingibjorg, daughter of earl Hacon Paul's son. King Rognvald was then the greatest warrior in the western lands. Three winters long it was that he lay out on board his warships, and never once came under sooty rafter. As soon as ever these words came to Rognvald, he drew together a host over all the realm of the Southern isles and from Cantire; he had too a great force from Ireland. Then he held on his course north to Caithness, and took all the land under him, and stayed there a while. Earl Harold sat in the Orkneys and gave no heed to the king's doings. But when the winter came on king Rognvald busked him home to his realm in the Southern isles. He set up behind him in Caithness three stewards; one was Mani Olaf's son, the secon Rafn the lawman, Hlifolf the quick was the name of the third. Some time after that king Rognvald fared away to the Southern isles, earl Harold sent a man over to the Ness, and said that he thought his errand would turn out good if he could get one of those stewards slain, or all three. This man was put across the Pentland firth; he went about till he met Rafn the lawman, and Rafn asked whither he was going. He was slow to answer. Rafn took up the word, and said: "I see that on thy face that earl Harold has sent thee hither to the Ness for some ill, but I cannot find it in my heart to slay thee, for thou art my kinsman." With this they parted, and he fared away thence, and came to Hlifolf's house, and the upshot of their dealings was that he made an end of Hlifolf. Then he ran away and out to the Orkneys to find earl Harold, and told him what he had done.
Earl Harold busks him now for a voyage out of the Orkneys, and when he was all boun, he fared first north [south] to Thurso and landed there from his ships. The bishop was in the burg at Scrabster. And when they saw earl Harold's host, those Caithness men saw that he had so great a host that they could in nowise withstand him. It was also told them that the earl was in such a bad frame of mind, that there was no saying whom he would spare. Then the bishop took up the word, and said: "If the meeting of us two goes off well, then he will give you peace." It was done as the bishop laid down. The earl's host rushed from the ships and to the burg. The bishop went to meet the earl, and greeted him with soft words, but the end of their meeting was, that the earl made them seize the bishop, and cut the tongue out of him, but after that he made them stick a knife into his eyes and blind him. Bishop John called on the holy maid St. Trollhæna (St. Triduana or St. Tredwall) in his maiming, and went afterwards on a certain cliff as soon as ever they let him loose. There was a woman on the cliff, and the bishop prayed her to help him. She saw that blood fell from his face, and said: "Be thou still, lord, for I will help thee with all my heart." The bishop was brought to that place where the holy Trollhæna rests; there the bishop got a cure both for his speech and sight. Earl Harold went then up to the burg, and they gave it over at once into the earl's power. He visited men there and then with great chastisments, and laid on those men great fines whom he thought had been most in the treason against him. He made all the Caithness men then come again under him with oaths, whether it were lieve or loath to them; after that he seized as his own all those estates which the stewards had owned who had fared to find the Scot-king. Then earl Harold sat there in Caithness with much folk.
Now it is to be told of the stewards. They made up their minds, six of them together, to go up to Scotland, and found the king there during the winter at the Yule fast [Advent]; then they could tell him plainly of all these tidings which had been done in Caithness on earl Harold's journey. At these tidings the king was very wrath, but he said they should pay double fines who had left his side. The first day that they were with the Scot-king he made them give to each of them five and twenty ells of cloth, and besides an English mark as travelling silver to each man of them. They were there with the Scot-king in good cheer on over Yule. But at once at the back of Yule the Scot-king sends word to all the chiefs in his realm, and drew together a very mighty host all over the land, and marched with that host straight down on Caithness to attack earl Harold. The Scot-king had a very great host, and he fares till he comes into Eystein's dale, there Caithness and Sutherland meet. The camp of the Scot-king stretched all along from each end of the dale, and that is a long way. Earl Harold was in Caithness when he heard these tidings. He drew together a force to him at once, and so it is said of it, that he got sixty hundred men, and yet had no power to withstand the Scot-king in fight. Then he sent men to find the Scot-king to try to make an atonement with him. But when that was brought before the king, he said that there was no need to look for an atonement unless he had every fourth penny from Caithness that was in the land. But when this message came before earl Harold, he called the landsmen to talk to him, and the other chiefs, and sought counsel of them. But with that, that they saw there was no way out of their difficulties, they came into that atonement that all the Caithness men should pay a fourth of their property to the Scot-king, save and except those men who had gone to find the king that winter. Earl Harold fared out to the Orkneys, and was to have all Caithness as he had had it before that earl Harold the young took it from the Scot-king. In that strife was blinded Thorfinn son of earl Harold; he had been taken as a hostage by the Scot-king. After that atonement the king fared up into Scotland. Earl Harold was now sole chief in the Orkneys.
It was towards the end of earl Harold's days that Olaf his son in law and John Halkel's son gathered a band out of the Orkneys, and went east to Norway against king Sverrir. They chose for their king Sigurd son of king Magnus Erling's son. With that host many men of high birth out of the Orkneys threw in their lot. That was one of the strongest bands. They were called the Island lads, and for a while Goldshanks. They fought at Floravoe against king Sverrir and got the worst of it. There fell both John and Olaf and their king as well, and the most part of the host. After that king Sverrir laid great feud at earl Harold's door, and said it was all his doing that that band had got together. So it came about that earl Harold fared from the west, and bishop Bjarni with him. The earl gave himself over into king Sverrir's power, and let him alone shear and shape all matters between them. Then king Sverrir decreed that all Shetland should fall from earl Harold with scatt and shot, and the Orkney earls have had not that land since.
Earl Harold was then five winters old when the title of earl was given him. He was twenty winters earl; so that he and the saint earl Rognvald were both together earls over the Orkneys. After earl Rognvald's fall, Harold was earl in the Orkneys forty eight winters. He breathed his last in the second year of the reign of king Ingi Bard's son. After earl Harold his sons John and David took his realm. His son Henry has Ross in Scotland.
These have been the most mighty of the Orkneyingers' earls after the telling of those men who have made stories about them; Sigurd Eystein's son is there named; earl Thorfinn Sigurd's son; earl Harold Maddad's son. Those brothers John and David both ruled the lands after their father, till David breathed his last of sickness in that year on which Hacon the silly breathed his last in Norway. After that John took the title of earl over all the Orkneys.
10. Harold the young] This account of the latter years of earl Harold Maddad son's reign and of the doings of earl Harold the young is very confused, and the Saga disposes of the events of several years in a very summary way. Fuller accounts are to be found in the Melrose Chronicle, in Fordun, and in Hoveden, Savile, Watts, p. 767. These accounts very in some material points, but Munch, N. H. iv. 41, note, and 443, note, has done his best to reconcile them. [Back]
11. The slaying of earl Harold the younger is assigned in the Ann Island, to the year 1198; cfr. Biskupass. i. 455 (fall Haralds jarls únga á Katanesi). [Back]