Margrete of Nordnes in Cult, Chronicle, and Ballad

Stephen A. Mitchell

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In 1290, Margrete, the 7-year-old daughter of King Eiríkr II Magnússon of Norway and Margaret, the daughter of King Alexander III of Scotland, begins a journey from Norway to Scotland. Unfortunately, Margrete, the heir presumptive to the throne of Scotland, dies en route, sparking a series of international and dynastic calamities. When, a decade later, a woman arrives in Bergen claiming to be the deceased princess, she is condemned to judicial immolation and burned at Nordnes. Surviving evidence strongly suggests that a popular cult developed around this Margrete of Nordnes (also called the ‘False Margrete’). This essay explores the extent to which the West Norse legacy of this so-called “folk saint” can be identified from what Jens Peter Schjødt calls the “jigsaw pieces” that history has bequeathed to us in a variety of narratives and historical documents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262–286
Number of pages24
JournalReligionsvidenskabeligt Tidsskrift
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Auðfinnr Sigurðsson
  • Einarr Hafliðason
  • folk saint
  • Frúgvin Margreta
  • Hafliði Steinsson
  • heterodoxy
  • Margrete of Nordnes
  • pilgrimage
  • Sancte Maritte kirke
  • Faroese ballads


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