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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.


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Top Hotel Deals

See all 47 properties near Earl's Palace
The Shore £135
The Shore

The Shore

Shore Street, Kirkwall, Scotland
     
    3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Situated in Kirkwall, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Mainland and Orkney Wireless Museum. St. Magnus Cathedral and Orkney Museum are also within 10 minutes.

    Kirkwall Youth Hostel £54
    Kirkwall Youth Hostel

    Kirkwall Youth Hostel

    Old Scapa Road, Kirkwall, Scotland
       
      2.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Situated in Kirkwall, this eco-friendly hostel is within a 15-minute walk of Mainland, Bishop's Palace and Earl's Palace. Orkney Museum and St. Magnus Cathedral are also within 15 minutes.

      West End Hotel £125
      West End Hotel

      West End Hotel

      14 Main Street, Kirkwall, Scotland
         
        3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Situated in Kirkwall, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Mainland, Bishop's Palace and Earl's Palace. Orkney Museum and St. Magnus Cathedral are also within 10 minutes.

        The Ayre Hotel £85
        The Ayre Hotel

        The Ayre Hotel

        Ayre Road, Kirkwall, Scotland
           
          3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Situated in Kirkwall, this hotel is steps away from Mainland and Orkney Wireless Museum.

          Albert Hotel £148
          Albert Hotel

          Albert Hotel

          Mounthoolie Lane, Kirkwall, Scotland
             
            3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

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

            St Ola Hotel £95
            St Ola Hotel

            St Ola Hotel

            Harbour Street, Kirkwall, Scotland
               
              3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Situated by the ocean, this guesthouse is steps away from Mainland and Orkney Wireless Museum. St. Magnus Cathedral and Orkney Museum are also within 10 minutes.

              The Orkney Hotel
              The Orkney Hotel

              The Orkney Hotel

              40 Victoria Street, Kirkwall, Scotland
                 
                3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Situated in Kirkwall, this eco-friendly hotel is steps away from Mainland, Bishop's Palace and Earl's Palace. Orkney Museum and St. Magnus Cathedral are also within 5 minutes.

                Heatherlea B&B £110
                Heatherlea B&B

                Heatherlea B&B

                Weyland Terrace, Kirkwall, Scotland
                   
                  3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Situated in Kirkwall, this bed & breakfast is within a 10-minute walk of Mainland, St. Magnus Cathedral and Orkney Wireless Museum. Orkney Museum and Earl's Palace are also within 15 minutes.