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Norse Earls of Orkney

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  • Skuli Þorfinnson Thorfinnsson, Earl of Caithness (c.922 - 980)
    Skule Thorfinnsson, sønn av Thorfinn Hausakljuv og Grelod Dungadsdotter [THORFINN "Hausakliffer/Skullcleaver" ([910/20]-[soon after 977], bur Hoxa, North Ronaldsway). Orkneyinga Saga names &...
  • Olith (possibly Donada) 'Thora' 'Anleta' MacKenneth (c.988 - 1034)
    Olith ingen Maíl Coluim mac Cináeda was the youngest daughter of Malcolm II. Her name is uncertain (Olith, Anleta, Thora). Parents Malcolm II and his wife (Ælfgifu) Spouse: S...
  • Ingibjörg Finnsdóttir (c.1030 - c.1069)
    Ingibiorg Finnsdottir (Standard Old Norse: Ingibjörg Finnsdóttir) was a daughter of Earl Finn Arnesson and Bergljot Halvdansdottir (Halfdansdottir), a niece of the Norwegian Kings Saint O...
  • Anlete "Thora Donda" MacKenneth (965 - 1000)
    Anonymous mistress or partner of Sigurd, mother of his older sons Sumarlide, Bruse and Einar Rangmund (Wrymouth). The saga says: Sigurd married a daughter of the Scottish king Malcolm, and their so...

The Earl of Orkney was originally a Norse jarl ruling Orkney, Shetland and parts of Caithness and Sutherland. The Earls were periodically subject to the kings of Norway for the Northern Isles, and later also to the kings of Alba for those parts of their territory in mainland Scotland (i.e. Caithness and Sutherland). The Earl's status as a Norwegian vassal was formalised in 1195. In 1232 a Scottish dynasty descended from the Mormaers of Angus replaced the previous family descended from the Mormaers of Atholl, although it remained formally subject to Norway.

The first known Earl of Orkney was Ragnvald Eysteinsson (Rognvald, Earl of Møre), who died around 890. Subsequent Earls, with one exception, were descended from Rognvald or his brother Sigurd until 1232.

The Norse Earldom was frequently under joint rule. The possessions of the Earldom included the Mormaerdom of Caithness and, until 1194, the Shetland Islands.

List of all the Earls

  • Ragnvald Eysteinsson, Earl of Møre, 9th century
  • Sigurd Eysteinsson (Sigurd the Mighty), brother of Ragnvald, 9th century
  • Guthorm Sigurdsson, c. 890
  • Hallad Rognvaldsson, c. 891–c. 893
  • Torf-Einar Ragnvaldsson (Turf-Einar), c. 893–c. 946
  • Arnkel Turf-Einarsson, 946–954 (died at the same battle as Eric Bloodaxe)
  • Erlend Turf-Einarsson, (d. 954) (died at the same battle as Eric Bloodaxe)
  • Thorfinn Turf-Einarsson (Thorfinn Skull-Splitter), c. 963–c. 976
  • Arnfinn Thorfinnsson, with Havard, Ljot and Hlodvir, c. 976–c. 991
  • Havard Thorfinnsson, with Arnfinn, Ljot and Hlodvir, c. 976–c. 991
  • Ljot Thorfinnsson, with Arnfinn, Havard and Hlodvir, c. 976–c. 991
  • Hlodvir Thorfinnsson, with Arnfinn, Havard and Ljot, c. 980–c. 991
  • Sigurd Hlodvirsson (Sigurd the Stout), 991–1014
  • Brusi Sigurdsson, with Einar, Sumarlidi and Thorfinn, 1014–1030
  • Einar Sigurdsson (Einar Wry-mouth), with Brusi and Sumarlidi, 1014–1020
  • Sumarlidi Sigurdsson, with Brusi and Einar, 1014–1015
  • Thorfinn Sigurdsson (Thorfinn the Mighty), with Brusi and Rognvald, 1020–1064
  • Ragnvald Brusasson, with Thorfinn, c. 1037–c. 1045
  • Paul and Erlend Thorfinnsson, 1064–1098
  • Sigurd Magnusson (Sigurd the Jerusalem-farer), later King of Norway, son of King Magnus Bareleg, 1098–1103
  • Haakon Paulsson, son of Paul Thorfinsson, with Magnus, 1103–1123
  • Magnus Erlendsson (Saint Magnus), with Haakon, 1108–1117
  • Harald Haakonsson, with Paul, 1122–1127
  • Paul Haakonsson, with Harald, 1122–1137
  • Rognvald Kali Kolsson (Saint Rognvald), with Harald Maddadsson and Erlend, 1136–1158
  • Harald Maddadsson, with Rognvald, Erlend and Harald Eiriksson, 1134–1206
  • Erlend Haraldsson, son of Harald Haakonsson, with Harald Maddadsson, 1151–1154
  • Harald Eiriksson, in Caithness, grandson of Rognvald Kali, with Harald, 1191–1194
  • David Haraldsson, with Heinrik and Jon, 1206–1214
  • Heinrik Haraldsson, in Caithness, with David and Jon, 1206–before 1231
  • Jon Haraldsson, with David and Heinrik, 1206–1231


  • The Orkney Saga
  • Medieval Lands database by Charles Cawley