Preface by Kevin Crossley-Holland / 7 Translator's Introduction / 11 Early Poems / 27 Incidents in the Earl's Daily Life / 33 Shetland Shipwreck / 43 The Lady Ermingerd / 51 Seafaring and Piracy / 61 Jerusalem / 69 Sailing to Byzantium / 75 Illness, Loss / 79 In Praise of Rognvaldr / 83 Notes on the Translation / 91 Biographical Notes / 93 Translator's Acknowledgements / 95
Rognvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson was born on his father's extensive estates in East Agoar, Norway, around 1100 - the exact year is not known. His mother inherited estates in Orkney and her brother ruled half the Orkney earldom before his martyrdom and subsequent canonisation as St. Magnus. When Kali, having adopted the name Rognvaldr after a previous successful earl, assumed the earldom in 1135, he founded the cathedral at Kirkwall and dedicated it to his uncle's memory. Rognvaldr is best remembered for his building of the cathedral, for his adventurous exploits during a three year pilgrimage to Jerusalem, described in the thirteenth century Orkneyinga Saga, and for his magnificently skilful skaldic poetry. In 1158 he was killed in an ambush in Caithness by political opponents, and in 1192, following his own canonisation, his remains were translated to Kirkwall Cathedral.