3rd International St Magnus Conference: Visualising the North

The 3rd International St Magnus Conference was held in the Orkney Islands 14-16 April 2016. The St Magnus Conference was inaugurated in 2011 by the Institute for Northern Studies in Orkney.

The 3rd International St magnus Conference was successfully held, 14-16 April 2016, with close to 90 delegates. Below you will find some photos from the conference, followed by the programme and call for papers.


You can now view a selection of presentations from this conference on the University of the Highlands and Islands' YouTube channel, ThinkUHI.

Memories from the St Magnus Conference

Professor Donna Heddle opened the conference in the St Magnus Cathedral. Her opening speech was followed by a keynote lecture by Prof Barbara Crawford and a performance of selected parts of the Office of St Magnus, sung by the Orkney Schola and led by Dr Ben Whitworth, who had also reconstructed the piece.



Many of the delegates took part in the field trip around the Orkney Mainland, led by tourist guide Fredrik Sundman who gave vivid insights into Orkney life past and present, supplemented by Dr Colleen Batey (University of Glasgow) who kindly filled us in on her archaeological excavations in Orphir and Birsay.


Conference Programme

Registration is now closed. The conference is full.


Call for papers

The Institute for Northern Studies, University of the Highlands and Islands, welcomes abstracts of paper and session proposals for the 3rd International St Magnus Conference, which will be held in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, 14-16 April 2016. The event offers an opportunity to present papers and posters on a wide range of subject areas, such as literature, archaeology, sociology, ethnography, geography, history and art history.

The conference theme concerns Visualising the North and suggested strands within this theme encompass:

(1) Maps and mapping: The relationship between abstract, symbolic and realistic maps. The vision of ‘northness’ in early maps and literature.  How was ‘the north’ understood before the compass?

(2) Landscapes: Physical landscapes, literary landscapes, mythical landscapes. Landscape and monument use and re-use, and the understanding of the past in the past.

(3) Inhabiting the north: The life of new settlers versus that of established populations, strategies of survival in a new environment – how does this compare to other geographical areas? To what extent were mental maps and ‘meaning of place’ transported to new lands?

Keynote speakers:

Barbara Crawford, Honorary Reader in Medieval History University of St Andrews and Honorary Professor, Institute for Northern Studies, UHI

Kevin Smith, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, Brown University.

Carla Sassi, Associate Professor of English Literature, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, University of Verona 



Submissions of single papers (abstracts of 100 words) or full sessions consisting of 3 speakers (abstracts of 400 words) within a thematic strand are welcome. All proposals should be emailed to: CNS@uhi.ac.uk by December 1, 2015.

Contact details:

Institute for Northern Studies, University of the Highlands and Islands

Kiln Corner


KW15 1QX

Orkney Islands


Tel: (+44) (0)1856 569 302

e-mail: cns@uhi.ac.uk


Practical information


Conference times

The conference tour is expected to start at 9 am on Thursday the 14th April, finishing at 5 pm, to be followed by the first keynote address and reception in the evening.


Friday the 15th and Saturday the 16th April there will be conference presentations from 9 am.

The conference finishes in the evening of Saturday the 16th with a conference dinner.

A detailed schedule of speakers will be announced here in January.



Travelling to Orkney

By airplane:

If you are coming by plane, the easiest way to get to Orkney is by making your connection through either Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, or Inverness. From these airports, there are direct flights to Kirkwall with Flybe. This airline collaborates with British Airways, so you can get a through ticket with them.

By railway, bus or car + ferry:

If you are coming over land, then make your way to either Aberdeen – from where you can get the Northlink ferry – or you can make your way to Caithness, where you can get the other Northlink ferry from Scabster, or Pentland Ferries from Gills Bay (takes about one hour).

Where to stay

Below is a selection of hotels and Bed&Breakfasts in Kirkwall, but it is not a complete list. Please refer to Visit Scotland’s website for more options and information on arranging your own accommodation. Read more about what to see and do in Orkney and Scotland here.

Options include:

Hotels in Kirkwall

Albert Hotel is located in the centre of Kirkwall, off the main shopping street. Single rooms from £95 including breakfast.

Ayre Hotel is located in the centre of Kirkwall near the harbour and the Peedie Sea. Standard single en-suite rooms range from  £77.00 to £90.00 including breakfast.

Kirkwall Hotel: Located in the centre of Kirkwall at the harbour where the fishing boats come in. Single Room from £80.00 inclusive of breakfast.

The Shore: This hotel is near the centre of Kirkwall with a view of the marina. Single rooms from £73 including breakfast.

Hostel accommodation

The Peedie Hostel is a nice, small hostel located next to the Ayre Hotel by the Peedie Sea near the centre of Kirkwall. Single rooms from £20 per night, dormitory beds £15.

Orcades Hostel is a pleasant hostel located near the Pickaquoy Centre, 10 minutes’ walk from the centre of Kirkwall. Single rooms from £40. Bed in 4-bed room £20. Tel (+44) (0)1856 873 745.

Bed and Breakfasts

There are also several nice Bed & Breakfasts nearby. Options include:

13 Palace Road: Located next to the St Magnus Cathedral. Rooms from £40 including breakfast. Tel. (+44) (0) 1856 87 22 49.

Kevock, The Keelies: Located near St Magnus Cathedral. Rooms from £40 including breakfast, £35 if you stay three nights or more.  Tel. (+44) (0)1856 875390