Call for Papers for St Magnus Symposium 2022

1 to 3 September 2022, Kirkwall

Ruler, Poet, Saint: Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson and his World

The Institute for Northern Studies UHI, the Centre for Nordic and Old English Studies University of Silesia, and the School of European Languages, Culture and Society University College London are the organisers of this special St Magnús Symposium and invite abstracts of 3-400 words along the following theme. Please email abstracts to by 28 February, 2022.

Travel Bursaries are available 

‘Tafl emk ǫrr at efla / íþróttir kannk níu’ (I am swift at playing board-games; I have nine skills), announces the young nobleman Kali Kolsson, before listing accomplishments as diverse as skiing, rowing, playing the harp, and composing verse (Orkneyinga saga ch. 58).

Kali, who would rule as Rǫgnvaldr, Earl of Orkney, from 1137-58/59, was a Renaissance man before the Renaissance, a medieval polymath who combined political responsibility with a passion for poetry and a spirit of adventure. Warrior, poet, crusader, saint: Rǫvnvaldr’s story encapsulates an uncommon diversity of experiences for the period. This conference will explore the history and literary representation of Rǫgnvaldr Kali Kolsson, set in the wider context of twelfth-century Orkney and the world beyond. The complexity of Rǫgnvaldr’s character and the breadth of his travels and experiences will offer a focal point for further investigation into issues central to the study of medieval Scandinavian history and culture, including literary myth-making and the construction of social memory; the relationship between prose and verse in the Icelandic sagas and manuscript tradition; and the interaction between east and west during the medieval period. We hope this conference will rekindle interest in the understudied figure of Rǫgnvaldr Kali Kolsson, and that the life and times of this enigmatic Earl of Orkney will offer new perspectives for the study of the medieval north.

The conference will be divided into four strands:

  • Rǫgnvaldr Kali Kolsson: ruler, poet, saint
  • Prose and Poetry in the North
  • Crusaders and the North
  • Orkney in the Twelfth Century and Beyond

For more information visit our St Magnus Symposium page.

CALL FOR PAPERS St Magnús Symposium 2022