THE BURNING OF BISHOP ADAM.
FROM THE FLATEY BOOK.
When bishop John died in Caithness, he whom earl Harold caused to be maimed, a man called Adam was chosen bishop in his stead; and no one knew his stock, for the child had been found at some church door. The Caithnesingers thought him rather hard in the bishoprick; and they laid most of the blame of that on a monk who was with him. It was an old custom that the bishop should have a span of butter for every thirty kine; this each householder was to pay who was in Caithness; he more who had more kine, but he less according to his means; and each was to pay according to the tale of his kine. But bishop Adam wished to raise the tax and have a span for every fifteen kine; and when he got that he claimed to have it for every twelve kine; and when that was given up he wished to have it for every ten kine. But that all thought something unheard of. Then the Caithnesingers fared to find earl John, he was then in Caithness, and raised this matter with him. The earl said he could give them no advice; and beside that he thought it concerned him very little; he said two bad things were before them; that it was unbearable, but said he could not suggest another choice. Bishop Adam was then at the High church [Halkirk] in Thorsdale, but earl John was a little way off. The Caithnesingers then held a Thing on the fell above the homestead in which the earl was. Rafn the lawman was then with the bishop, and he prayed the bishop rather to spare the men, also he said he was afraid how things might go. The bishop bade him be quiet, and said the freemen would calm down of themselves. Then a message was sent to earl John with a prayer that he would reconcile the bishop and the freemen; but the earl would come never near the spot. Then the freemen ran down from the fell and fared hotly and eagerly. And when Rafn the lawman saw that he bade the bishop devise some plan to save himself. He and the bishop were drinking in a loft. And when the freemen came to the loft, the monk went out at the door; and was straightway smitten across the face, and fell down dead inside the loft. And when the bishop was told that he answered: "That had not happened sooner than was likely, for he was always making our matters worse." Then the bishop bade Rafn tell the freemen that he wished to be reconciled with them. But when this was told to the freemen, all those among them who were wiser were glad to hear it. Then the bishop went out and meant to be reconciled. But when the worse kind of men saw that, those who were most mad, they seized bishop Adam, and brought him into a little house, and set fire to it. But the house burnt so quickly that they who wished to save the bishop could do nothing. Thus bishop Adam died, and his body was little burnt when it was found. Then a fitting grave was bestowed on it and a worthy burial. But those men who had been the greatest friends of the bishop, they then sent men to find the king of Scots. Alexander was then king of Scots, the son of king William the saint. But when the king was ware of these tidings ............. so ill that men have those miseries in mind which he wrought after the burning of the bishop in maiming of men and manslaying, and loss of goods and banishment of men out of the land.
And now we cannot tell more certainly of those tidings which belong to the earls of the Orkneyingers than just as we have said.