Today is St Magnus’ Day.
According to the Orkneyinga Saga: “[i]With Magnus’ fate sealed, Hakon ordered Ofeig, his standard-bearer, to execute the earl. But the warrior refused angrily.
Enraged, Hakon turned to his cook, Lifolf, and instructed him to kill Magnus.
According to the saga, Lifolf wept loudly but Magnus spoke comforting words and forgave him for the acts he must carry out:
“Be not afraid, for you do this against your will and he who forces you sins more than you do.”
So Magnus knelt before Lifolf and asked to be struck hard on the head, rather than beheaded like a common criminal:
“Stand thou before me, and hew on my head a great wound, for it is not seemly to behead chiefs like thieves. Take heart, poor wretch, for I have prayed to God for thee, that He be merciful unto thee.”
Lifolf struck the blow and cleaved the Earl’s skull in two[/i].”
Lifolf probably used an axe, but he was a cook so may well have used a cleaver.