Scheduled Monument

Noltland CastleSM90231

Status: Designated


Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (

The legal document available for download below constitutes the formal designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The additional details provided on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not form part of the designation. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within this additional information.


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Secular: castle
Local Authority
Orkney Islands
HY 42929 48691
342929, 1048691


The monument comprises the remains of a castle of 16th-century date. It is in the care of the Secretary of State for Scotland and is being re-scheduled to clarify the extent of the protected area.

The monument lies about 800m to the WNW of Pierowall, at around 25m OD. It comprises Noltland Castle, a Z-plan castle constructed by Sir Gilbert Balfour from 1560 onwards. The castle, now roofless, consists of an oblong main building measuring about 27m E-W by about 11m transversely and containing a hall and chamber above a vaulted kitchen and cellarage. Square towers project from the SW and NE corners of the main building.

The SW tower measures about 9m square and the NE tower about 8m. Although the main building of the castle was designed to have 3 upper storeys, only the NE tower and the adjoining chamber block of the main building appear ever to have been ever completed. These are finished with corbelled parapets and cylindrical turrets, within which rise the crow-stepped gables of the high-pitched roofs. The main building has 71 gun-loops, arranged in tiers. On the S side of the castle stand the S wall and footings of a range of 17th-century buildings enclosing a courtyard. Overall, the castle measures about 34m N-S by about 40m E-W.

The area proposed for scheduling comprises the remains described and an area around them within which related material may be expected to be found. It is quadrangular, with maximum dimensions of 51m approximately E-W by 70m approximately N-S, and is defined on all sides except the S by the outer face of a stone wall, as marked in red on the accompanying map extract.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance because of its contribution to our understanding of 16th- and 17th-century domestic and defensive architecture. Its importance is enhanced by the colourful role that its builder, Sir Gilbert Balfour, played in the political affairs of Scotland and Sweden in the 16th century, and by the potential that its below-ground remains have for shedding further light on the material culture of the period. Its importance is reflected in its status as a Property in Care of the Scottish Ministers.



RCAHMS records the monument as HY 44 NW 1.


Ashmore, P. (ed.) The ancient monuments of Orkney. HMSO; Edinburgh.

Cross, M. (1994) Bibliography of Monuments in the Care of the Secretary of State for Scotland, 468-9, Glasgow.

Ritchie, A. (1996) Orkney, The Stationary Office; Edinburgh.

Simpson, W. D. (1983) Noltland Castle. HMSO; Edinburgh.

Historic Environment Scotland Properties

Notland Castle

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About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map (see ‘legal documents’ above) showing the scheduled area is the designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary and provided for general information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within the statement of national importance or additional information. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at

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Printed: 25/07/2024 08:43