It´s been a long day already, but there was one more thing I wanted to do – the Isle of Birsay, which one only can visit during low tide. But right next to the pathway, or better said, nearby is the Earl´s Palace and invites for a short visit.
It was the residence of Robert Stewart, half-brother of Mary Queen of Scots, who became Earl of Orkney in the late 1500s.
The palace’s use was short-lived, however: built between 1569 and 1574, its story effectively ended with the overthrow of the Stewart earls in 1615. An inventory drawn up by Oliver Cromwell’s troops in 1653 suggests neglect had already set in, and by 1700 the palace was roofless and decaying. (Historic Enviroment)
Built between 1569 and 1574 by Robert Stewart who created Earl of Orkney, Lord of Shetland and Knight of Birsay in 1581 by his nephew, James VI.
The palace complex was entered via an elaborate southern entrance, and ranged around the courtyard were four ranges of two-storey buildings. Three-storey towers projected from the corners.
On the ground floor were service rooms, while the upper floors, comprising two halls, chambers and a gallery, were reserved for the earl. (Historic Enviroment)
Robert ruled like a tyrant and in 1593 was succeeded by his son Patrick, who practised similar ruthless tactics until he was arrested in 1609. But again his son Robert tried to cling to power. In 1614 he recaptured the palace and marched on Orkney’s capital, Kirkwall, seizing the Earl’s Palace there.
But Robert was captured too and both men, father and son, were executed om early 1615.
Today the ruins of the Palace are a lovely place to visit and even have a picnic, there is a honesty box (more a cabinet), filled with delicious things, right next to the palace. The views over the Bay of Birsay are stunning.
And maybe you will also meet this lovely watch-cat: