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Point H - Bishop’s And Earl’s Palace

Beside St Magnus Cathedral, you will find the Bishop’s Palace which dates from 1263. Centuries before Orkney joined Scotland, Kirkwall was a bustling Norwegian port. This is the town’s oldest surviving domestic building and is part of the medieval cathedral complex.

The Bishop’s Palace was built in the mid-12th century for Bishop William the Old – a friend and crusading companion of Earl Rognvald Kolsson, the cathedral’s founder.

The Earl’s Palace was added much later, in the early 1600s. Patrick Stewart, Earl of Orkney, had the ambitious plan to make the Bishop’s Palace part of a splendid palace complex, ‘The Palace of the Yards’.

Bishop’s Palace – Photo by David Stanley from Nanaimo, Canada, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

After a crushing defeat at the Battle of Largs, the Norwegian King Haakon IV’s fleet returned to Kirkwall, where the king fell ill. He died in the Bishop’s Palace on December 15, 1263.

The façade of the Earl’s Palace, has oriel windows, corbelled turrets and an elaborate entrance
Have a look for the statue of St Rognvald on the outside of the Reid Tower.

Directions: To get to the Orkney Museum, which is our next stop, please make your way back down Palace Road and the Museum is directly opposite you.