The combined guidebook to the Bishop’s Palace and the Earl’s Palace in Kirkwall, Orkney, was prepared by W. Douglas Simpson. Both palaces had been placed in State Guardianship in 1920.
The older Bishop’s Palace was linked to St Magnus’ Cathedral in Orkney. It was constructed in the 12th century. The Earl’s Palace was constructed by Earl Patrick from 1601; he incorporated the remains of the former Bishop’s Palace that had passed to his father, Earl Robert Stewart in 1568.
The guide contains an Introduction, followed by sections on the Bishop’s Palace and the Earl’s Palace (each with a history followed by a description), then a short bibliography and a glossary. A double-sided fold-out plan inside the back cover provides details for both palaces.
Both palaces now feature in the Historic Scotland guide to the monuments of Orkney by Caroline Wickham-Jones.
Iona Abbey © David Gill
The 2016 figures for Leading Visitor Attractions have been published. They include figures for properties in the care of Historic Environment Scotland (Historic Scotland).
The properties are:
- no. 16: Edinburgh Castle, 1,778,548
- no. 68: Stirling Castle, 481,970
- no. 84: Urquhart Castle, 396,397
- no. 103: Glasgow Cathedral, 296,062
- no. 177: Skara Brae, 93,375
- no. 182: Doune Castle, 90,279
- no. 188: St Andrews Castle, 77,038
- no. 190: Linlithgow Palace, 74,428
- no. 194: Iona Abbey, 65,092
- no. 198: Fort George, 60,924
- no. 200: Melrose Abbey, 52,073
- no. 203: Argyll’s Lodgings, 49,197
- no. 210: St Andrews Cathedral, 46,488
- no. 212: Tantallon Castle, 42,708
- no. 215: Caerlaverock Castle, 35,633
- no. 219: Elgin Cathedral, 30,502
- no. 220: Blackness Castle, 30,053
Significant rises were seen in the numbers for Edinburgh Castle, Urquhart Castle, Glasgow Cathedral (62%), Doune Castle, Linlithgow Palace, St Andrews Cathedral, Elgin Cathedral and Blackness Castle.
Linlithgow Palace © David Gill
I have noted before the official guidebook for Skara Brae on Orkney. The original edition by V. Gordon Childe dated to 1933, and the guide was revised in 1983 (D.V. Clarke with [the late] V. Gordon Childe). This 1983 edition was fully illustrated (in black and white), with sections on The site revealed; the best in northern Europe; the village and its inhabitants; a guided tour. This guide was published by HMSO.
David Clarke is the author of the Historic Scotland guide (2012). This is fully illustrated, in colour, and includes plans and reconstructions. There are three main sections: guided tour; life at Skara Brae; understanding Skara Brae. The guide includes a section on the local wildlife.
The remains of ancient settlements on the island of Birsay, located just to the north west of Mainland in Orkney, are described in the Historic Scotland guidebook (1986) by Anna Ritchie.
The main sections are:
- Introduction: ‘Ane litell holme within the sea’
- History: Picts and Norsemen
- Tour: an exploration of the island
- Station 1: The carpark on the Point of Buckquoy
- Station 2: Pictish symbol stone
- Station 3: Norse houses
- Station 4: Norse smithy
- Station 5: A Norse house
- Station 6: Norse house and Pictish well
- Station 7: ‘Grand entrance’
- Station 8: The church
- The museum
There is also a short bibliography.
There is a reconstruction of one of the Norse houses by Alan Sorrell.
Like some of the early English Heritage guidebooks there is acknowledgement of the support and sponsorship of Gateway.
The Edinburgh Castle blog has reflected on the evolution of the guidebooks to the castle and it made me realise that there is little here so far on guidebooks from Scotland. One of the few was the foldout guide to the Antonine Wall (a companion to a similar one for Hadrian’s Wall).
This ‘blue’ guide is the eleventh edition (1977) of the third edition (1950) written by the prehistorian V. Gordon Childe. The guide was printed in Edinburgh by HMSO (30p) and it follows the standard blue format for sites ‘held in trust for the nation by the Secretary of State for Scotland and cared for on his behalf by the Department of the Environment’. The subtitle, used since 1950 was Ancient dwellings at Skara Brae.
The ‘Preparatory note’ informs us, ‘This guide is intended to simplify a visit to Skara Brae’.
The guide is divided into two separate sections, history and description. The history considers:
- Discovery and excavation of the site
- The ‘history’ of the village [and note the use of ‘history’]
- General character of the ruins
There is a foldout-plan along with sections through the settlement.
The Department of the Environment (DOE) also published an interim report, The Neolithic Village at Skara Brae, Orkney. 1972-73 Excavations (Edinburgh: HMSO) by D.V. Clarke. The landscape format (and size) is identical to the DOE guide to the Saxon Shore.