Noltland Castle Ruins

Orkney, United Kingdom

Noltland Castle dates mainly to the later 16th century, although it was never fully completed. In 1560 Adam Bothwell, Bishop of Orkney, granted the lands of Noltland to his brother-in-law Gilbert Balfour, who built the castle. Balfour was Master of the Royal Household to Mary, Queen of Scots, and was involved in the plot to kill her husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. After Mary's deposition and exile, he continued to support the queen. Noltland was seized by Robert Stewart, 1st Earl of Orkney, an opponent of Mary's supporters, but he was forced to hand it back to Balfour in the early 1570s. Balfour died in Sweden in 1567, and in 1598 the castle was again seized by the Earl of Orkney (now Patrick Stewart, son of Robert). By 1606 the castle had been restored to the Balfours once more, when it was sold to Sir John Arnot, Lord Provost of Edinburgh, who later became Sheriff of Orkney.

During the Wars of the Three Kingdoms in 1650, Royalist officers occupied the castle after their defeat at the Battle of Carbisdale. Local Covenanters captured and burned the castle. By 1881 it was described as a ruin, and was given into state care by the Balfour family in 1911. it is now maintained by Historic Scotland.

The castle is built in the Z-plan form, comprising a rectangular main block with towers at opposite corners. A courtyard was added to the south in the 17th century. The castle is notable for its defensive architecture, unusual for the period, including a large number of shot holes. The large staircase has been compared to the stair at Fyvie Castle in Aberdeenshire.

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Founded: 1560
Category: Ruins in United Kingdom

Rating

4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Henry Harding (2 years ago)
There is a thrill to being challenged. The interior photos of the dining hall and Spiral Staircase were that, but They turned out well. However it was not realized until a fair amount of technical challenges were overcome. That is evolution for you. The castle was open at any time from what it appeared.
Calum (2 years ago)
One of Scotland's most well-preserved and striking fortified towers, noltland is a massive, imposing fortification that seems almost comically out of place in such a small, remote island. The stonework is incredible: thick impenetrable walls peppered with gun loops, beautiful spiral staircases and vaulted interiors. One not to miss if you enjoy history or architecture, and all for free? Awesome. Also decidedly creepy.
Christopher Waters (2 years ago)
As far as old castle ruins go this is small but interesting.
Barbara Sharples (2 years ago)
Interesting and nice to include on an Orkney visit
Kevin Bell (2 years ago)
Good condition inside, so great for exploring!
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