Skuli Þorfinnson Thorfinnsson (Orkneyjarl), Earl of Caithness (c.922 - 980) MP

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Birthdate:
Birthplace: Norse Orkney
Death: Died in Skidamyre, Skidamyre, Caithness, Scotland
Managed by: Anne M Berge
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About Skuli Þorfinnson Thorfinnsson (Orkneyjarl), Earl of Caithness

Skule Thorfinnsson, sønn av Thorfinn Hausakljuv og Grelod Dungadsdotter

http://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/SCOTTISH%20NOBILITY.htm#EinarIJarlOrkneyB

[THORFINN "Hausakliffer/Skullcleaver" ([910/20]-[soon after 977], bur Hoxa, North Ronaldsway). Orkneyinga Saga names “Arnkel…Erlend and…Thorfinn Skull-Splitter” as the three sons of Einar[199]. Snorre names "Thorfin Hausakljufer, a son of Torfeinar" when recording that he was Jarl in Orkney when the islands were invaded by the sons of King Eirik "Blodøks"[200]. Joint Jarl of Orkney with his brothers. Sole Jarl of Orkney 954, and 955-976. Orkneyinga Saga records that “Earl Thorfinn Skull-Splitter…died in his bed” and was “laid in a burial mound at Hoxa in North Ronaldsway”[201]. The Complete Peerage estimates Thorfinn´s death to “soon after 977” which appears broadly consistent with the events in which his children are reported as involved[202].

m ([941]) GRELAD of Caithness, daughter of DUNGAD [Duncan] Mormaer of Caithness & his wife Groa. Snorre names "Grelad, a daughter of Earl Dungad of Caithness…[and of] Groa, a daughter of Thorstein Raud" as mother of the five sons of Thorfin "Hausakljufer"[203].] Thorfinn & [his wife] had [seven] children:

a) [daughter . If the reports of the plots involving her son are correct, she was probably older than her brothers. m ---. One child:]

i) [EINAR "Klining/Buttered-Bread" (-murdered). Orkneyinga Saga records that “Ragnhild Eirik´s daughter” plotted her second husband´s death with his “nephew…Einar Buttered-Bread” (whom she promised to marry), that she then plotted with “Einar Hardmouth, the son of another of Havard´s sisters” to kill Einar Buttered-Bread[204].]

b) [daughter . If the reports of the plots involving her son are correct, she was probably older than her brothers. m ---. One child:]

i) [EINAR "Hardchaft/Hard-Jaw" (-murdered). Orkneyinga Saga records that “Ragnhild Eirik´s daughter” plotted her second husband´s death with his “nephew…Einar Buttered-Bread” (whom she promised to marry), that she then plotted with “Einar Hardmouth, the son of another of Havard´s sisters” to kill Einar Buttered-Bread, but that she finally married “Ljot the brother of Arnfinn and Havard” who “had Einar Hard-Mouth put to death”[205].]

c) [ARNFINN Torfinnsson (-murdered Murkle, Caithness ----). Orkneyinga Saga names (in order) “Arnfinn…Havard the Fecund…Hlodvir…Ljot…Skuli” as the five sons of Thorfinn[206]. Snorre names "the Earls Hlodver, Arnfid, Ljot and Skule, the sons of Thorfin Hausakljufer" as rulers in Orkney when Queen Gunhild and her sons returned to Orkney[207]. In a later saga, Snorre names (in order) "Arnfin, Havard, Hlodver, Liot and Skule" as sons of Thorfin "Hausakljufer"[208]. He succeeded his father in [976] as Jarl of Orkney [and Caithness]. Orkneyinga Saga records that “Ragnhild Eirik´s daughter plotted the death of her husband Arnfinn at Murkle in Caithness” before marrying “his brother Havard the Fecund who succeeded to the earldom”[209].

m ([954/55]) as her first husband, RAGNHILD Eiriksdatter, daughter of ERIK I "Blodøks/Blood-axe" King of Norway & his wife Gunhild Gormsdatter.

Orkneyinga Saga records that Gunnhild, widow of ex-King Eirik of Norway, arranged the marriage of their daughter Ragnhild to “Earl Thorfinn Skull-Splitter” before she and her sons left Orkney[210], which can probably be dated to [955] or soon after. Snorre records the marriage of "King Eirik's daughter, Ragnhild" and "Arnfin, a son of Thorfin Hausakljufer" at the time the ex-king's sons left Orkney[211]. She married secondly her brother-in-law, Havard Jarl of Orkney. Orkneyinga Saga records that “Ragnhild Eirik´s daughter plotted the death of her husband Arnfinn at Murkle in Caithness” before marrying “his brother Havard the Fecund who succeeded to the earldom”, but that she plotted her second husband´s death with his “nephew…Einar Buttered-Bread” (whom she promised to marry), that she then plotted with “Einar Hardmouth, the son of another of Havard´s sisters” to kill Einar Buttered-Bread, but that she finally married “Ljot the brother of Arnfinn and Havard”[212]. She married thirdly her brother-in-law, Ljot Jarl of Orkney.]

d) [HAVARD Torfinnsson "Season-prosperous" (-murdered, bur Stennis, Hrossey).

Orkneyinga Saga names (in order) “Arnfinn…Havard the Fecund…Hlodvir…Ljot…Skuli” as the five sons of Thorfinn[213].

Snorre names "the Earls Hlodver, Arnfid, Ljot and Skule, the sons of Thorfin Hausakljufer" as rulers in Orkney when Queen Gunhild and her sons returned to Orkney[214]. In a later saga, Snorre names (in order) "Arnfin, Havard, Hlodver, Liot and Skule" as sons of Thorfin "Hausakljufer"[215]. He succeeded his brother as Jarl of Orkney. Orkneyinga Saga records that Havard was killed by his “nephew…Einar Buttered-Bread” at “Stenness on Mainland”[216].

m as her second husband, RAGNHILD Eiriksdatter, widow of ARNFINN Torfinnsson Jarl of Orkney, daughter of ERIK I "Blodøks/Blood-axe" King of Norway & his wife Gunhild Gormsdatter. Orkneyinga Saga records that “Ragnhild Eirik´s daughter plotted the death of her husband Arnfinn at Murkle in Caithness” before marrying “his brother Havard the Fecund who succeeded to the earldom”, but that she plotted her second husband´s death with his “nephew…Einar Buttered-Bread” (whom she promised to marry), that she then plotted with “Einar Hardmouth, the son of another of Havard´s sisters” to kill Einar Buttered-Bread, but that she finally married “Ljot the brother of Arnfinn and Havard”[217]. She married thirdly her brother-in-law, Ljot Jarl of Orkney.]

e) [LJOT Torfinnsson (-killed in battle). Orkneyinga Saga names (in order) “Arnfinn…Havard the Fecund…Hlodvir…Ljot…Skuli” as the five sons of Thorfinn[218].

Snorre names "the Earls Hlodver, Arnfid, Ljot and Skule, the sons of Thorfin Hausakljufer" as rulers in Orkney when Queen Gunhild and her sons returned to Orkney[219]. In a later saga, Snorre names (in order) "Arnfin, Havard, Hlodver, Liot and Skule" as sons of Thorfin "Hausakljufer"[220]. He succeeded his brother as Jarl of Orkney. Orkneyinga Saga records that, after the death of “Skuli, Ljot´s brother” whose invasion of Orkney was repelled, “Earl Ljot took over in Caithness” and defeated “Earl Macbeth [who] came north from Scotland with a large army…at Skitten in Caithness” but died from his wounds after returning to Orkney[221]. It is assumed that “Earl Macbeth” was not the future Scottish King Macbeth, who was Mormaer of Moray in the early 1030s, but an earlier earl of the same name who has not yet been identified in other primary sources. Otherwise the chronology of Orkneyinga Saga must be even more shaky than appears, and the family relationships of the Jarls of Orkney as described therein even less likely to be correct.

m as her third husband, RAGNHILD Eiriksdatter, widow firstly of ARNFINN Torfinnsson Jarl of Orkney and secondly of HAVARD Torfinnsson Jarl of Orkney, daughter of ERIK I "Blodøks/Blood-axe" King of Norway & his wife Gunhild Gormsdatter. Orkneyinga Saga records that “Ragnhild Eirik´s daughter plotted the death of her husband Arnfinn at Murkle in Caithness” before marrying “his brother Havard the Fecund who succeeded to the earldom”, but that she plotted her second husband´s death with his “nephew…Einar Buttered-Bread” (whom she promised to marry), that she then plotted with “Einar Hardmouth, the son of another of Havard´s sisters” to kill Einar Buttered-Bread, but that she finally married “Ljot the brother of Arnfinn and Havard”[222].]

f) [HLODVIR Torfinnsson ([945/50]-[988], bur Hofn, Caithness). Orkneyinga Saga names (in order) “Arnfinn…Havard the Fecund…Hlodvir…Ljot…Skuli” as the five sons of Thorfinn[223]. Snorre names "the Earls Hlodver, Arnfid, Ljot and Skule, the sons of Thorfin Hausakljufer" as rulers in Orkney when Queen Gunhild and her sons returned to Orkney[224]. In a later saga, Snorre names (in order) "Arnfin, Havard, Hlodver, Liot and Skule" as sons of Thorfin "Hausakljufer"[225].

Orkneyinga Saga records that “after Ljot´s death, Hlodvir took charge of the earldom”, presumably indicating Ljot´s brother but this is not explicitly stated in the text, recording that “he died in his bed” and was buried “in a burial mound at Ham in Caithness”[226].

m EITHNE, daughter of KIARVAL King of Ireland & his wife ---. Orkneyinga Saga records that “Hlodvir” married “Eithne, the daughter of King Kjarval of Ireland”, adding in a later passage that “Sigurd´s mother was a sorceress”[227]. Hlodve´s supposed father-in-law has not been identified among known Irish kings. Hlodve & his wife had [three] children:

i) [SIGURD "Digri/the Stout" ([965/70]-killed in battle Clontarf 23 Apr 1014). Orkneyinga Saga names “Sigurd the Stout” as the son of Hlodvir and his wife, adding that he “took over the earldom” after his father died[228].

Snorre names "Sigurd the Thick" as the son of Hlodver[229]. He succeeded his father [988] as Jarl of Orkney and Caithness.]

ii) [SVANLAUG or Nereid. m (Orkney 990) GILLI Jarl of the Hebrides 988-1014.]

iii) [daughter . m HAVARD (-winter 988/89). Steward of Caithness for Jarl Sigurd. Killed by Jarls Melsnati and Hundi, who were defeated when Jarl Sigurd attacked them in revenge.]

g) [SKULI Torfinnsson (-killed in battle). Orkneyinga Saga names (in order) “Arnfinn…Havard the Fecund…Hlodvir…Ljot…Skuli” as the five sons of Thorfinn[230]. Snorre names "the Earls Hlodver, Arnfid, Ljot and Skule, the sons of Thorfin Hausakljufer" as rulers in Orkney when Queen Gunhild and her sons returned to Orkney[231]. In a later saga, Snorre names (in order) "Arnfin, Havard, Hlodver, Liot and Skule" as sons of Thorfin "Hausakljufer"[232].

Orkneyinga Saga records that “Skuli, Ljot´s brother” was given “the title earl by the King of Scots”, before going north to Caithness from where he sailed to Orkney to claim the islands, but was defeated and fled “first over to Caithness and then south to Scotland” and later killed[233].

The uncertain chronology of events recorded in Orkneyinga Saga make it difficult to be certain about the identity of the Scottish king in question, although Kenneth II (who ruled from 971 to 995) appears the most likely possibility. It is interesting to note that the text does not specify that Skuli was made “Earl of Caithness” just earl without a territorial epithet, reminiscent of the position in many other European countries at the time where the title was not linked to the landholding.]

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Skuli Thorfinnsson, Earl of Caithness's Timeline

922
922
Norse Orkney
980
980
Age 58
Skidamyre, Skidamyre, Caithness, Scotland
980
Age 58
Caithness, Scotland
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????
Jarl of Caithness
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killed in battle at Skid Myre against the Picts under Magbiod