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Local information

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Muness Castle, Hebrides & Isles

Location: 4m north east from pier at Belmont off the A968, Grid reference - HP 629 012 (map and directions)

On the southeast corner of Scotlandís most northerly inhabited island of Unst lies Muness Castle, the most northerly fortress of all the British Isles.

Muness Castle, Hebrides & Isles copyright Colin Park
Muness Castle © Colin Park

History of Muness Castle

Muness Castle was built in 1598 by Laurence Bruce, Sherriff of Shetland and half brother of Robert Stewart, Earl of Orkney. The castle had a walled courtyards, several outhouses with additional accommodation, a bakehouse, a brewery, stables, and most likely also a chapel.

Once one of the mightiest and most secure castles in Scotland, today Muness Castle is a ruined castle consisting of two out of three storeys and the remains of the castleís circular towers. A large kitchen and a series of cellars are still intact, and used to display stones and other artefacts discovered on site.

One interesting remain of the ruin is the spiral staircase at the end of the great main hall of Muness Castle. The staircase winds up toward the second floor, which is no longer there. Muness is known for its intricate design features, including several signature design details from the architect Andrew Crawford.

Muness Castle was first attacked by Earl Patrick in 1608, though his 36 men suddenly withdrew for reasons unknown. Then in 1627 French raiders attacked and burned the castle, and though a certain amount of repair is evident, by the end of the century, Muness Castle lay abandoned until 1713 when the castle was rented to the Dutch East India Company to house cargo. Muness was officially sold in 1718 and by 1750 the new owners abandoned the castle and it was roofless by 1774.

Today the ruined Muness Castle is in the care of Historic Scotland.

Map and directions

Muness Castle is open to the public year round.

View Muness Castle in a larger map

Other castles in Hebrides & Isles

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