|Jarldom of OrkneyjarTimeline: The Old Boar Suffered|
|. 8th Century - 875|
|Official languages||Old Norse|
|-||Norwegian Settlement||8th century|
|-||Jarldom established under Norwegian Rule||c. 875|
The Jarldom of Orkney (Old Norse: Orkneyjar) was a Norse state in northern Scotland founded during the Viking period, which at different periods controlled Orkney, Shetland, and parts of Caithness and Sutherland. Norwegian settlement in Orkney began in the eighth century, with a jarldom under Norwegian rule being officially established around the year 875. The islands would be granted to the Jarl of Møre, Rognvald Eysteinsson, son of Eystein Glumra, Jarl of Oppland and Hedmark, by Norwegian king Harald Fairhair, in compensation for the death of the Jarl's son while campaigning under Harald to conquer the islands. Rognvald's descendants, through his youngest son Turf-Einar, the son of a concubine on his mother's side, would rule the Jarldom of Orkney for years to come, establishing a stable dynasty in the North Sea.
During the Strathclyde War the Jarl of Orkney, Thorfinn Torf-Einarsson, allied with Eirik Bloodaxe, the former King of Norway, who created the Jarldom of Suðrland in northern Scotland. The defeat of Scottish forces in the north would lead to further territorial gains for Orkney in the coming years, who profited from an ally on the Scottish mainland.
Before Norse rule Orkney had been settled by Pics during the Bronze Age. Settlement by the Norse was largely carried out by Vikings seeking conquest, as well as farmers in search of land. It is unclear what became of the native Pict population, although they were likely massacred, assimilated, or forced to flee back to Scotland.
During the eighth century the islands of Orkney saw an influx of Norse settlement, especially from those fleeing conflict in Norway. The unification of Norway under Harald Fairhair further pushed Norwegians to Orkney, attracting those opposed to Harald's rule. After the Battle of Hafrsfjord in about 872, Norway was completely unified under Harald's rule. Orkney became a base for raids against Harald's kingdom, and in 875 he launched an invasion of both Shetland and Orkney to pacify this threat. Harald was accompanied by the Jarl of Møre, Rognvald Eysteinsson, son of Eystein Glumra, Jarl of Oppland and Hedmark. While campaigning in the British Isles Rognvald's son Ivarr would be killed, and in compensation Harald Fairhair granted him rule over Orkney and Shetland. Rognvald passed these titles onto his brother Sigurd, while he himself returned to Norway.
During Sigurd's reign he challenged a Pictish nobleman, Máel Brigte of Moray, to a forty man-a-side battle, to settle a dispute between Moray and Orkney. After the agreement had been made, Sigurd instead brought eighty men to the battle, decisively defeating Máel Brigte's men. The Pictish warriors were beheaded, and their heads strapped the the Norse men's horses. While riding away, Máel Brigte's buckteeth allegedly scrapped Sigurd's leg, causing his leg to become infected. Sigurd died from his wounds, and Orkney passed to his son Guttorm, who died a few months later. The jarldom passed to Rognvald's son Hallad, but he was unable to contain Danish raids in Orkney and retired to Norway. Rognvald was furious, and summoned his sons Thorir and Hrolluag, but both sons he believed would not pursue a career in Orkney. Instead his youngest son Turf-Einar volunteered to go to the islands.
Turf-Einar would defeat the Danish raiders in Orkney, including two warlords named Thorir Treebeard (Þórir Tréskegg) and Kalf the Scurvy (Kálf Skurfa), and would go on to found a successful dynasty in the islands, that would last for years. Rognvald would be killed by Gudrod Gleam and King Harald's son Halfdan, who surrounded his house and burnt it to the ground, killing the Jarl and sixty men inside. Harald ordered that Gudrod be arrested, forcing him into exile. Halfdan escaped to the British Isles, managing to seize Orkney and temporarily displace Turf-Einar. Turf-Einar based himself on the Scottish mainland and resisted Halfdan's occupation. Turf-Einar's forces would win a decisive battle at sea, allowing him to land on Orkney and began a hard fought campaign to retake the islands. Halfdan was found hiding in the north of the isles, and Turf-Einar had him sacrificed to Odin as a blood eagle. Harald made peace with Einarr in exchange for a fine of sixty gold marks levied upon himself and the allodial owners of the islands, to which Einarr offered to pay the full amount in exchange for his seizure of the island's lands. In terms of compensation, Harald made Turf-Einar the new Jarl of Møre, and also offered his daughter Alof to him in marriage.
Turf-Einar died of sickness, his long reign unchallenged. He left behind three sons, Arnkel, Erlend, and Thorfinn, who succeeded him as Jarls of Orkney. Turf-Einar, despite his partially lowborn birth on his mother's side, had successfully established a stable kingdom under his rule. Turf-Einar's deal with Harald had also allowed the Jarldom to seize the entirety of the islands, albeit while remaining a vassal of the Norwegian crown, increasing the power of the Jarl on the islands themselves.
- Main article: Strathclyde War (The Old Boar Suffered)
The former King of Norway, Eirik Bloodaxe, who had been deposed by Haakon the Good, had taken up residence in the Jarldom of Orkney several years after his war in Norway. An alliance was formed when Eirik gave his daughter Ragnhild to Jarl Thorfinn Turf-Einarsson’s son Arnfinn, helping to grow a loyal army. Eirik next secured an alliance with Olaf Sigtryggsson, who upon the death of Olaf Guthfrithson became king of Suðreyjar. Acting upon the advice of Olaf, Eirik sought to establish his own kingdom in the Kingdom of Scotland, and began amassing a force in the north. Ivar Halfdansson, Reeve of Cumberland, a warrior from the time of Ragnall’s invasion of Northumbria, also pledged support, and in 943 Olaf Sigtryggsson and Ragnall Guthfrithson, two of the most influential lords in Suðreyjar, led an army into Strathclyde.
Forces from Orkeny accompanied Eirik Bloodaxe in northern Northumbria, near the eastern coast of Scotland, led by Thorfinn's brothers Arnkel and Erlend. Supported by an army of Jórvík warriors who joined his war effort, Eirik began raiding into southern Scotland. During the invasion both Arnkel and Erlend would be killed, leaving Thorfinn as sole ruler of Orkney. Later in the campaign forces from Orkney would take part in a raid on the Firth of Tay, raiding the abbey at Dunkeld, and even threatening Scone itself. A battle outside the city pushed the vikings back to their ships, but not before much of the surrounding area had been raided. Raiding continued up the northern coast of Scotland, before both parties of vikings reached the city of Inverness in early 946.
The subsequent Battle of Inverness saw the Scottish occupy the fort and the surrounding area, inflicting heavy casualties against the vikings. After the vikings appeared to flee, Scottish peasants pursued them frantically, against the orders of Malcom. The Scottish army, now exposed from their fort, was promptly surrounded by Norse reinforcements. Reportedly the entire force that chased after the vikings would be killed, ending the day as a decisive victory for the Norse. The victory would leave a large number of Scottish nobles dead on the battlefield, and convinced Malcom I to sue for peace. Weakened by extensive warring, the Norse kings ended their raiding by late 947. Eirik Bloodaxe remained in the north and warred against the local lords and chieftains of Caithness and Sutherland, creating the so called Jarldom of Suðrland. In the south Scotland de facto ended its vassalge of Strathclyde, and also lost a number of neighboring towns to the Kingdom of Suðreyjar. The Strathclyde War would weaken Scotland significantly, but in many cases the Norse kingdoms around it suffered their own instability, allowing Scotland to retake a number of territories over the course of the next few generations.
Thprfinn had five sons; Arnfinn, Havard, Hlodvir, Ljot, and Skuli, with Grelad, daughter of a Norse warrior named Dunbad and his wife Groa, daughter of Thorstein the Red, a viking who led an army in Scotland alongside Sigurd Eysteinsson. Thorfinn also had two daughters, who gave birth to Einar kliningr ("Buttered-bread") and Einar harðkjotr ("Hard-mouth") respectively. Thorfinn died an old man around the year 963, and was buried on Rognvaldsey, being succeeded by his many sons. Eirik Bloodaxe's daughter Ragnhild had her husband Arnfinn killed, and she married his brother Havard, who ruled as Jarl. She conspired with the Jarl's nephew Einar kliningr, who killed Havard in a battle near Steinnes. Ragnhild left Einar and had his cousin Einar harðkjotr attack and kill his cousin. Still not assuaged, Raghnhild married Ljot Thorfinnson and had the second Einar killed. At this point Ragnhild had married three of Thorfinn's sons, before she possibly died. Ljot Thorfinnson became the new jarl, although dynastic conflict continued for some time.
Upon the death of Eirik Bloodaxe around the year 954, his sons launched an invasion of Norway to reclaim their father's kingdom from Haakon the Good. A Norwegian victory at Rastarkalv resulted in the death of Gamle Eiriksson in 955, where as Guttorm Eiriksson died two years earlier at Avaldsnes. The sons of Eirik returned to Norway in 957, with support from the Danish king Gorm the Old, but again were defeated by Haakon. It was not until 961 that they would successfully defeat the Norwegian king. Three of Eirik's remaining sons, led by Harald Greycloak, landed in Hordaland and managed to defeat Haakon at Fitjar. Harald Greycloak became king of Norway as Harald II, while the next oldest son, Ragnfrød, became Jarl in Suðrland.
Skuldi sought the jarldom of Orkney for himself, and allied with the Scottish king against Ljot. The jarl and Skuldi battled, with Ljot managing to kill his brother. MacBeth, the Mormaer of Moray, brought a large army north and invaded Suðrland, causing Ljot and Ragnfrød to ally and meet the Scottish army at Skitten Mire. The Norse were victorious, although Ljot later died of his wounds sustained at the battle. Hlodvir became jarl, marrying Eithne, daughter of Kjarvalr, King of Ireland. The succession of Hlodvir ended the period of dynastic conflict in Orkney, and upon his death he was succeeded by his son Sigurd.