Castles in Orkney
If you really want to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, take a trip to the beautiful Orkney Islands, which lie on the northern tip of Scotland. Take the time to visit a few of the castles and palaces that are situated there, like the Earl's Palace in Birsay and Kirkwall as well as the Kirkwall castle and Bishop's Palace. In Perth you will see one of the most unusual Scottish castles: Noltland castle. Many different architects and builders were used but Noltland castle was never finished. If you are in the southwest part of the island Shapinsay and you're in need of accommodation, why not stay at Balfour hotel castle the northern most castle in the world. When the last Balfour died, Polish calvary officer Tadeusz Zawadski took up residence and has since converted it into a hotel.
Balfour Castle is aptly known as a Calendar House. It has seven turrets, twelve exterior doors, 52 rooms, and 365 panes of glass! Balfour Castle is an imposing structure on the southwest end of Shapinsay Island of Orkney. It stands between the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea surrounded by woods, close to the shore.
Kirkwall on Orkney Island is home to the Bishop’s Palace which was built in the mid-12th century for Bishop William the Old, near the St Magnus Cathedral. The Bishop was a friend and crusading companion of Earl Rognvald Kolsson, the cathedral’s founder. The Bishop and his staff moved here from their original seat of power in Birsay. The Islands were then under the rule of the King of Norway.
The massive ruins seem strangely out of place but still dominate Birsay. One can only imagine what Earl’s Palace was like in its full glory. It stood by the shore of Birsay Bay, a proud edifice whose cruel owner oppressed the people of Orkney as long as he ruled them.
Robert Stewart, the first Earl of Orkney and his son Patrick go down in history as the most tyrannical Earls of Scotland. The two Earl’s Palaces in Birsay and Kirkwall were built by them with slave labor on land partially acquired by force.
Kirkwall Castle does not exist; but in the fourteenth century it did stand at the present junction between Albert Street, Castle Street and Broad Street. All one can see today is a commemorative plaque on a building on Castle Street in the lovely city of Kirkland on Orkney, Scotland. In the 13th century the islands were ruled by Norse kings and Henry Sinclair, (or St. Clair) a well known sailor was offered the Earldom of Orkney by King Hakkon of Norway.
The ruins of the Noltland Castle dominate the harbor at Pierowall about a mile from Westray. It was built on land granted by the Bishop of Orkney, Adam Bothwell, to his brother-in-law, Gilbert Balfour, when Bothwell was made Sheriff of Orkney by Mary Queen of Scots in 1560. A fine example of a 16th-century fortified Z-plan tower house, its massive walls are pierced with 60 embrasures for firing weapons. The lower floors are pierced by 71 gunloops, designed to ensure that every approach to the castle would be covered.