The monument consists of the remains of the Earl's Palace, built by Patrick Stewart, earl of Orkney, between c.1601 and 1607.
Earl Patrick had been granted the former bishop's palace, or Palace of the Yards, in Kirkwall, together with the bishopric lands, by James VI in May 1600. The Earl's Palace represents the new residence that he built for himself. It comprised a first-floor hall, with an outer and an inner chamber, along with various other guest chambers, set above a service basement including a kitchen. The new work was inserted into the south-eastern corner of the former bishop's palace, some remains of which, including a masonry-lined well, were incorporated into its lower structure. Excavations on the east side of palace have also revealed the existence of a late medieval ditch running parallel to its east wall.
The area to be scheduled includes the standing remains of the Earl's Palace, a surrounding area in which below-ground archaeological remains associated with it and with the earlier bishop's palace are likely to survive and all boundary walls and gates, excluding the walls of the Sheriff Court and Police Station, the above-ground structure of the bowling club pavilion, the uppermost 25cm of soil covering the bowling green itself, and the upper 20cm of the tarmac surface immediately north of the Sheriff Court; overall this represents an area measuring some 72m ESE-WNW by 88m NNE-SSW, as indicated in red on the accompanying map.