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Bishop’s Palace

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The Bishop’s Palace can be found in the town of Kirkwall on the “mainland’ of the Orkney Islands. Construction started in 1137AD at the same time as the nearby Viking cathedral of St. Magnus. The Islands of Orkney remained the possessions of Norway until 1469 and were known as the Nordreyjar. Correctly called ‘Palace of the Yards’, It was built for the retired crusader ‘William the Old’, the cathedral’s first bishop. At first glance it could easily be mistaken for a small castle built in the Norwegian style. In 1263 it became the refuge of King Håkon IV of Norway after the disastrous battle of Largs put an end to the Norse invasion of Scotland. Exhausted and ill he died in the palace within months of his arrival. Over the next hundred years it was neglected and fell into ruin. in 1540 it was rebuilt by the founder of Edinburgh University, Bishop Robert Reid, who added the distinctive round tower known as the “Moosie Toor”. In the same year it was used as a billet for the troops King James V of Scotland when he visited the island. In 1586 it’s believed to have sustained significant damage when it was besieged by forces of the King after it was seized by Robert Stewart on the orders of his father, the tyrannical Earl of Orkney, who had been imprisoned earlier. Both men were later executed. Although it was still used for various purposes until 1688 it was never rebuilt as the palace it had once been. As the years passed it fell into ruin again and more recently was taken over by Historic Scotland.



Camping and Caravanning Club Site
Jubilee Park Road, Dingwall
Highlands, Scotland, IV15 9QZ
+44 (0)1349 862 236

Contact Details

  • Address: Palace Street, Kirkwall, Orkney, Scotland, United kingdom, KW15 1PD
  • GPS: 58.98049444,-2.958988889
  • Phone: 0044 (0)1856 871 918
  • Part of UK: Scotland
  • Sat Nav Postcode: KW15 1PD
  • Entrance Fees: Yes
  • Disabled Access: Very limited for wheelchair users
  • Visibility from Road: Excellent

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