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Noltland Castle

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

This edition is copyright © The Editors of the Gazetteer for Scotland, 2002-2016.

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Noltland Castle, a ruin near the northern coast of Westray island, Orkney, 20 miles N of Kirkwall. By some conjectured to have been built by Sir Gilbert Balfour, as a refuge for the Earl of Bothwell in the time of Queen Mary, it much more likely was built by the governor, bishop, or princely prelate Thomas de Tulloch in 1420, towards the close of which century it was besieged by Sir William Sinclair of Warsetter. It was besieged again and captured by Earl Patrick Stewart, and gave refuge to the last surviving officers of the Marquis of Montrose's army, when it became a ruin, periodically illuminated in celebration of the births and marriages of the Balfours. Offering the mingled character of palace and fortress, but seemingly never completed, it now presents the appearance of a huge grey oblong pile, with ranges of embrasures resembling tiers of port-holes, and with attached dismantled masses of masonry. Its open quadrangle is entered by an ornamental arched port; and it includes, on the ground flat, a great hall 62 feet long and 24 wide, overarched with a strong stone roof about 20 feet high.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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