Wednesday, 3 August 2016

I have been to ... Scalloway Castle, Shetland Islands

Scalloway Castle is on Mainland the largest island on the Shetlands and was built in 1600 by Patrick Stewart, 2nd Earl of Orkney (c. 1566 – 6th February 1615). Stewart had just been made an Earl, and the castle was one of the residences he used when on Shetland. Construction of the building took seven years, and when it was completed it also served as a meeting place for Shetland’s thing or parliament.

Patrick Stewart did not remain in power very long, and in 1609 the Shetland lairds made complaints to the king about Patrick's poor governance of the islands. Patrick was subsequently imprisoned at Edinburgh Castle, and executed for treason in 1615 when he encouraged his son Robert to retake his Orkney possessions.

In the meantime control of the islands had passed to the Bishop of Orkney (James Law), and it is recorded that he held his first court at Scalloway Castle in August 1612. From then on the castle went into a slow decline, and by the 1650s it was being used to house a small garrison of soldiers. By the early 1700s its condition was described as poor, and some the original ornamental stonework had been removed and used in building projects elsewhere on Shetland.

The ruins are now maintained by Historic Scotland.

Scalloway Castle must have been quite an impressive building when it was completed, and its style is definitely 'Scottish Baronial', with lots of turrets ...

... and towers.

The main entrance is on the ground floor, and shows evidence of some sort of carved ornamentation over the door.

When we entered, we went up a short flight of stairs ...

... and along a corridor ...

... before we entered what remains of the building's Great Hall.

Another corridor ...

... gave us access to the castle's undercroft, which was used for storage and as a kitchen area.

We then returned by the same corridor ...

... to the castle's entrance.


  1. It is a shame to see these old Castles and Manor Houses now in partial ruin and long neglected...good that there are Societies now days devoted to partial- to full restoration. Thanks for posting. Regards. KEV.

    1. Kev,

      At least the shell of this one is still standing. Many stately homes and manor houses in the UK were deliberately demolished during the twentieth century so that the families could avoid having to pay punitive Death Duties.

      All the best,