The Black Arts of Birsay

We heard about a magnificent renaissance palace called the Earl’s Palace in Birsay. Being out this way we thought it might be worth a nosey and, located in a small village, it ought to be easy to find. I found a parking spot near by, we started to wander around the village and before long, down a tiny alley, there it was dwarfing the rest of the village.

Turns out our old friend Black Lord Robert Stewart built this palace in four years starting in 1569. Short reminder: this Earl Robert was the illegitimate son of King James V, much unloved and in fact reviled. He built this monument to his royal pretensions and the tyrannical oppression of his people.

The blackness of Lord Robert’s reputation faded into a paler shade of grey beside his son Patrick Stewart who soon officially took over as Earl around 1600. Patrick, if you remember, built that splendid castle in Scalloway and dear Escapees a magnificent palace in Kirkwall, on our agenda soon.

When you enjoy a reputation as bad as the Stewarts, whether you’re building a castle or a palace, you’d build in as many arrow ports and defensive devices as they did.

Spiral staircase leading up to the Earls bedroom

These were unsettled times, it seems, and bad karma eventually caught up with Patrick and his son Robert after an unpopular revolt against King James VI went pear-shaped. By 1614 the Palace was seized and so were their heads.

Ironic that Marce found an honesty box just across the alley from Black Lord Robert’s Palace. This one featured pickles and condiments in addition to the usual sweets and Marce bought several jars for the pantry.

Gun ports pointed right at her.

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One Response to The Black Arts of Birsay

  1. Suzy O'Hanlon Capenos pths68

    Amazing how much archeologists have identified who and when these ruins were used centuries ago. Enjoy the decrease in £and Cerro. Of course prices are up. Lovely photos. Thanks for sharing.

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