A touch more modernAugust 26, 2017 in the United Kingdom
With a couple of hours to spare we decided to wander the streets of Kirkwall. By day a thriving metropolis, after 9pm the streets are pretty much deserted. The town is first mentioned in Orkneyinga saga in the year 1046 when it is recorded as the residence of Rögnvald Brusason the Earl of Orkney, who was killed by his uncle Thorfinn the Mighty. Just love those names!
We'd bought an Orkney Explorer Pass which gave us access to 7 of the main attractions on Orkney and Shetland Islands. In Kirkwall this included the St Magnus Cathedral and the Bishop and Earl Palaces. The Bishop's Palace is a 12th-century palace built at the same time as the adjacent St Magnus Cathedral. It housed the cathedral's first bishop, William the Old of the Norwegian Catholic church. It looked a lot like a castle.
The Earl's Palace is a ruined Renaissance-style palace and was built by Patrick, Earl of Orkney, with construction beginning around 1607 and being largely undertaken via forced labour. The palace was built after he decided that the nearby Bishop's Palace didn't suit his needs. He's considered one of the most tyrannical noblemen in Scotland's history. and was eventually executed for treason (along with his son).Read more