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  A Timeline of Early Orkney History
Year Event
3800BC (circa) The Knap of Howar built and occupied on the island of Papa Westray.
3400-3100BC (circa) Earliest structures at the Barnhouse Settlement.
3300-3200BC (circa) Earliest structures built on the Ness of Brodgar site.
3200BC (circa) Early buildings at Skara Brae.
3000-2900BC (circa) Standing Stones o' Stenness constructed.
2900-2750BC (circa) Barnhouse Neolithic settlement abandoned. Work begins on Barnhouse Structure Eight.
2800-2700BC (circa) The chambered tomb Maeshowe constructed
2700BC (circa) [Pyramids in Egypt]
2600-2500BC (circa) Construction of Ring of Brodgar.
2200BC (circa) The village of Skara Brae abandoned

50AD Broch of Gurness in early stages of development.
84 (circa) Agricola's supposed visit to Orkney.
563 [Saint Columba in Scotland]
580 Cormac's missionary journey to Orkney.
787 [First recorded appearance of Vikings in England.]
800 (circa) [First period of Norse colonisation begins.]
841 [Rouen taken by the Norsemen.]
850 (circa) Harald Fairhair's legendary voyage to Orkneyearldom established.
853 [Norse kingdom established in Dublin.]
871 [Alfred the Great King of England.]
874 (circa) Sigurd I is earl.
885 [Siege of Paris by the Norsemen.]
890 (circa) Battle with Maelbrigte of Ross (the villainous "Tusker" of Orcadian folklore) – Earl Sigurd's death resulted (see The Ba' Page for more details).

Guttorm, Sigurd's son, is earl
900 Battle of Harfursfirth – Second period of Norse colonisation begins.
[Iceland colonised by Norsemen]
907 (circa) Hallad, son of Rognvald, Earl of Moeri, earl
893 (circa) Einar I ("Torf Einar") Rognvaldsson is earl. (Referred to as Torf Einar as he is credited with introducing the tradition of burning peats as fuel to the islands)
912 [Rolf or Rollo, Rognvald's son, Duke of Normandy.]
946-976 (circa) Arnkell, Erlend I, and Thorfinn I, Einar's sons, rule as joint earls.
950 [King Eric Bloodaxe expelled from Norway.]
954 King Eric Bloodaxe and Earls Arnkell and Erlend fall at battle of Stainsmoor.
976-991 (circa) Arnfinn, Havard, Ljot, and Hlodvir, Thorfinn's sons, are joint earls.
980 [Discovery of Greenland by the Norsemen.]
986 [Possible Discovery of America (Vinland) by the Norsemen.]
991 (circa) Sigurd II Hlodvirsson, is earl.
995 Sigurd forced to convert to Christianity by Olaf Trygvesson.
998 [Olaf Trygvesson is King of Norway.]
1014 Battle of Clontarf - Earl Sigurd is killed, carrying the cursed Raven Banner.

Sumarlid, Einar II, Brusi, and (later) Thorfinn II, Sigurd's sons, joint-earls.
1030 Death of Earl Brusi - Thorfinn II sole earl

Rognvald, Brusi's son, claims a share of the earldom.
1045 Battle in the Pentland Firth (south of Orkney) between Rognvald and Thorfinn.
1045 Earl Rognvald murdered on the island of Papa Stronsay.
1056 [Malcolm Canmore is King of Scotland.]
1057 Christ's Kirk in the West Mainland parish of Birsay founded. The exact location of the kirk is still hotly debated today, with some believing it stood within the offshore island settlement known the Brough o' Birsay and others that it stood where Birsay village is now found.
1065 Death of Thorfinn; his sons Paul I. and Erlend II are joint-earls
1066 Harald Hardradi visits Orkney.
[Harold Godwinsson is King of England]
[Battle of Stamford Bridge]
[The Norman Conquest - Invasion of Duke William of Normandy - Battle of Hastings]
1087 [Moorish Empire established in Spain]
1096 [First Crusade]
1098 Magnus (Barefoot), King of Norway, sends the Orkney earls to Norway, and makes his son Sigurd "King" of Orkney
1103 [Death of King Magnus of Norway - Sigurd is made King of Norway]
1105 Hakon Paulsson and Magnus Erlendsson are joint-earls.
1117 Murder of Earl Magnus (St Magnus) in Egilsay
1123 Death of Earl Hakon; his sons Harald I and Paul II joint-earls
1127 Death of Harald - Paul sole earl
1129 Rognvald II (Kali) appointed joint-earl by King Sigurd of Norway
1135 Rognvald's first expedition to claim the earldom
St. Magnus Church, Egilsay, founded
1136 Rognvald's second expedition to acquire Earldom- Earl Paul kidnapped by Sweyn Asleifson
1137 St Magnus Cathedral founded in Kirkwall
1138 Harald II Maddadson joint-earl
1151 Norse Crusaders (Jerusalem-farers) returning from the Holy Land winter in Orkney and break into Maeshowe seeking shelter (see also Maeshowe's Treasure and Maeshowe's Runes)
1151 Earl Rognvald's Crusade to Jerusalem
1151 Erlend III is made joint-earl
1152-1154 The War of the Three Earls - Rognvald, Harald and Erlend fight for possession of the Earldom.
1154 Death of Erlend III - killed off the island of Damsay by Rognvald and Harald.
1158 Earl Rognvald killed. Harald sole Earl.

Sweyn Asleifson's last cruise and death at Dublin.
[English invasion of Ireland]

1194 [Battle of Floravoe in Norway. The defeat of the "island-beardies"]
1196 Shetland separated from the Orkney Earldom
1197 Harald III becomes joint Earl (grandson of Rognvald)
1198 Death of Harald III - killed by Earl Harald Maddadsson.
1206 Death of Harald II Maddadson. His sons David and John become joint earls.
1214 Death of Earl David
[Alexander II becomes King of Scotland]
1215 [Magna Carta granted in England]
1222 Bishop Adam burned in Caithness.
1231 Death of John; last Earl of the Norse line.
1236 (circa) Magnus II, the first of the Angus line, becomes Earl.
Ship carrying the chief men of the Orkney islands is lost on the voyage between Norway and Orkney.
1239 Gilbride (Gilbert) I becomes earl
1249 [Alexander III is king of Scotland]
1256 Magnus III is made earl.
1263 King Hakon of Norway's expedition to his western empire.
The Battle of Largs
Haakon dies in Kirkwall.
1273 Magnus IV is earl.
1284 Jon II Magnusson is earl.
1286 [Death of Alexander III of Scotland. Margaret of Norway becomes heiress to the Scottish Crown]
1292 [Death of Margaret - "the Maid of Norway"]
1306 [Robert the Bruce is King of Scotland. Local tradition has it that Bruce passed the winter of 1306-07 in Orkney, not in the island of Rathlin]
1310 Magnus V is earl.
1312 [Treaty of Perth confirmed at Inverness]
1314 [Battle of Bannockburn]
1321 The death of Magnus V marks the end of the Angus line.
Malise of Stratherne becomes Earl.
1353 Erngisl is made earl
1357 Death of Erngisl; the end of the Stratherne line.
1379 Henry I (St. Clair) is made earl.Shetland restored to the Earldom
[The union of Norway, Sweden and Denmark - the Union of Calmar]
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See Also

This early timeline of Orcadian history briefly details events that have gone to shape the Orkney Islands and the people who live there.
The entries highlighted in red text show events not directly related to Orkney. These were included to give the reader an idea of the islands' place within the broader scheme of global events.
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