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 held on14-16 April 2016, with close to 90 delegates.


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.

Prof Donna Heddle at St Magnus Conference

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

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.St Magnus Conference Poster

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