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Earl's Palace

Take a tour of this impressive 17th-century ruin, considered to be among the finest examples of French Renaissance architecture in Scotland.

With only a two-story section left standing, the Earl’s Palace lies mostly in ruins today, but it was once considered to be one of Scotland’s most remarkable Renaissance buildings. Discover the remnants of the palace’s beautiful entrance decorations and step inside to see its spectacular fireplace.

The palace was built in the early 17th century for Earl Patrick Stewart, son of the illegitimate brother of Mary Queen of Scots. The much-loathed Earl of Orkney and Shetland is said to have used slave labor in the construction of this building as well as his other residences. After the Earl’s execution in 1615, the palace became the residence of Orkney’s bishops before eventually falling into disuse in the 18th century. Visit here today and you’ll find just a small portion of the building still standing, consisting of two rectangular sections that together form an “L” shape.

Admire the palace’s ornately decorated front façade. Weather has eroded the soft stone used to create the façade’s adornments, but you can spot the faded remains of several heraldic panels. The palace’s roof slates were stripped and sold when the building was abandoned, and it remains roofless to this day.

View the ruins of the palace’s cellars, kitchen and well on the ground floor. A wide stone staircase leads up to the first floor, main apartments and great hall. The Earl’s apartment was set at the top end of the great hall, as far as possible from his guests and household officials, reflecting his obsession with security.

Don’t miss the great hall and its grand, 16-foot (5-meter) wide fireplace. This splendid room once featured high vaulted windows and intricately painted decorations.

Earl's Palace is located nearby Bishop’s Palace and St. Magnus Cathedral, a short walk from Kirkwall’s bus station. Admission includes entrance to Bishop’s Palace. Both buildings can also be visited using the Orkney Explorer Pass. The palace is open from April to September. Imagine how the building might have looked in its prime as you explore the ruins of this once stunning palace.


Map

Lodging Near Earl's Palace

See all 26 Hotels near Earl's Palace
$137
Albert Hotel

Albert Hotel

Mounthoolie Lane, Kirkwall
4.3
of 5, from 36 reviews
3.0 out of 5.0

Situated near the beach, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of St. Magnus Cathedral, Orkney Museum, and Bishop's Palace. Earl's Palace is 0.4 mi (0.7 km) away.

$77
St Ola Hotel

St Ola Hotel

Harbour Street, Kirkwall
3.8
of 5, from 13 reviews
3.0 out of 5.0

Situated in Kirkwall, this beach guesthouse is within a 10-minute walk of St. Magnus Cathedral, Orkney Museum, and Bishop's Palace. Earl's Palace is 0.4 mi (0.7 km) away.

$80
Karrawa Guest House

Karrawa Guest House

Inganess Road, Kirkwall
4.6
of 5, from 11 reviews
3.0 out of 5.0

Situated in Kirkwall, this guesthouse is within a 15-minute walk of Earl's Palace and Bishop's Palace. Orkney Museum and St. Magnus Cathedral are also within 1 mi (2 km).

Castleyards Apartment 1

Castleyards Apartment 1

1 West Castle Street, Kirkwall
3.0 out of 5.0

Situated in Kirkwall, this apartment is steps from St. Magnus Cathedral and Orkney Museum. Bishop's Palace and Earl's Palace are also within 10 minutes.

Castleyards Apartment 2

Castleyards Apartment 2

2 Castleyards, Kirkwall
3.5 out of 5.0

Situated in Kirkwall, this apartment is steps from St. Magnus Cathedral and Orkney Museum. Bishop's Palace and Earl's Palace are also within 10 minutes.

Bridge Street Apartment

Bridge Street Apartment

5 Bridge Street, Kirkwall
5.0
of 5, from 1 reviews
3.0 out of 5.0

Located in the heart of Kirkwall, this vacation home is within a 5-minute walk of St. Magnus Cathedral and Orkney Museum. Bishop's Palace and Earl's Palace are also within 10 minutes.

SYHA Kirkwall - Hostel

SYHA Kirkwall - Hostel

Old Scapa Road, Kirkwall
2.0 out of 5.0

Situated in Kirkwall, this eco-friendly hostel is within a 15-minute walk of Bishop's Palace, Orkney Museum, and Earl's Palace. St. Magnus Cathedral is 0.6 mi (1 km) away.

$87
The Inn Guest House

The Inn Guest House

St. Marys, Holm
4.8
of 5, from 46 reviews
3.0 out of 5.0

Situated in Holm, this guesthouse is 1 mi (1.6 km) from Churchill Barriers and 1.4 mi (2.3 km) from Italian Chapel. Mine Howe and Earl's Palace are also within 9 mi (15 km).