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  The siege of Cubbie Roo's Castle

Towards the middle of the 13th century, when Earl Jon Haraldson held the islands, a man named Snaekoll Gunnisson demanded the former Earl Rognvald’s lands in Orkney.

The great-grandson of Earl Rognvald, and the nephew of Earl Harald Eiriksson (also known as Harald Ungi – ‘the younger’), Snaekoll claimed the holdings were his by right of inheritance. Both Rognvald and Harald had shared the Earldom with Earl Harald Maddadsson during his long reign.

But Earl Jon refused.

So Snaekoll turned to the Norwegian king’s steward in Orkney, Hanef. A relation of the Orkney Bishop Bjarni and therefore Kolbein Hruga, Hanef was possibly a kinsman of Snaekoll himself.

In 1231, Snaekoll and Hanef with a band of followers sailed south across the Pentland Firth to Thurso to confront the earl again.

There, after a heavy drinking bout, Snaekoll, Hanef and their men attacked the Earl’s lodging. Earl Jon fled to the cellar to hid, but was found and slaughtered.

The earl’s killers fled north to Orkney where they took refuge in Cubbie Roo’s castle in Wyre. Here, the dead earl’s kinsmen besieged them but were thwarted by the castle’s defences.

Eventually, a truce was declared and all parties agreed to go to Norway to have King Hakon settle their differences.