Magnus Barelegs

An area behind the East Strand dunes and a hole on the Royal Portrush Golf Club Valley Course is known as “War Hollow”, based on a legend passed down through the ages. As the Norwegian legend goes, the warrior King Magnus Barefoot, (sometimes called Magnus Barelegs,) conquered Ireland among many other islands. Wherever he landed, he would sack the town and sail away with all the gold, jewels and slaves he could get.

In 1103, King Magnus arrived in Irish waters with his longships and his men plundered O’Cahans Country west of the River Bann and sacked all the area. The chieftain at Dunluce (which was a strong fort, but not yet a castle,) ordered a bonfire to be lit on the nearby hills as a signal for his allies to come to his aid. Magnus came ashore after three days and expected to see his men come towards him with all the cattle and slaves from their pillaging; but was ambushed by the hundreds of Ulstermen who had hidden behind the sandhills.

The Vikings lost and retreated with the dead Magnus, but the Norwegian sailor who returned with the tale in 1790 told of a great treasure which was buried among the sandhills. Newspaper reports from 1813 record what could have been a Viking Longship found in a bog in Ballywillan, but the timber was carried off by locals and it is impossible to tell whether it would have been proof of the legend or not.