Egilsay is the larger of the two islands off Rousay, and is accessed from the same ferry. The RSPB have a base here; listen for the corncrakes at the southern end of the island. A 20th-century cenotaph marks where Earl Magnus was murdered in 1117 on the orders of Earl Haakon Paulsson, dramatically described in the Orkneyinga Saga.
Later, Magnus’ nephew Rognvald Kali seized the earldom and made his uncle into a saint, building the dramatic St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall in his honour. Pilgrims were soon flocking to Egilsay seeking miracle cures and St Magnus Kirk was built, one of only two surviving Viking round-towered churches in Britain.
There’s a small shop and post office near the jetty.