Touring Holiday: Skaill House #Orkney #Scotland

Back to Orkney

This is the twelfth post from my Orkney trip, and I’m not finished yet by quite a long way. Considering we were only there for a week, you are maybe starting to understand just how much history there is to investigate in this amazing place – and so far this has all been on the Mainland, only one of Orkney’s 70 odd islands!

Skaill House

Skaill House is the finest 17th Century mansion in Orkney, and home of the man who unearthed Skara Brae in 1850. Once you have finished marvelling at the incredibly well preserved Neolithic site, you have only to walk a few hundred metres to enter a totally different era.

Built in 1620, ‘Skaill’ is the Old Norse word for hall, and with many of the farmsteads in the area bearing Norse names, it seems likely this was a very active Viking community. Part of the house stands on a pre-Norse burial ground, and plenty of Iron Age remains dot the landscape locally, once again emphasising the depth of history the area is steeped in.

The first Laird of Skaill was the son of Bishop George Graham, who was by all accounts a genial man, ‘generous to the poor and accused of being too lenient to witches and lax on adultery and incest. These charges led to him being forced to resign his position in 1638’. (https://skaillhouse.co.uk/the-house/the-lairds-of-skaill/) His official residence was in the Earl’s Palace in Kirkwall, but like so many senior clergy of the time, he’d accumulated a considerable property portfolio including Skaill House, which passed to his eldest son on his death in 1643.

Last occupied in 1991, the house was opened to the public in 1997, and also houses self-catering apartments if you fancy a stay. It is presented much as the family home it was in the 1950s,

Sadly I don’t have as many photographs as usual, as I somehow managed to wipe them from the camera memory without first saving them to the laptop. Duh.

An example of an Orkney Chair – unique pieces of furniture only produced on the islands, at not inconsiderable cost due to the time necessary to weave each individual hand-made chair.

Poor tiger.

I’m sure by now you are starting to get the idea – unless you are only interested in the modern day, there is pretty much something for everyone to see on Orkney!

9 comments

  1. Oooh, I do love the fashion room, lol go figure! And that chair was lovely, what type of wood do you think they’d use? ❤

    1. No surprises there! And good question, I really should have included some info on the chairs. They are made from driftwood collected along the shoreline, and straw grown on the islands, so each is truly unique ❤

      1. Gorgeous!!! Do you have one? xx

      2. No, they are shockingly expensive because of the time it takes to weave the straw. Bit of a collector’s item really.

      3. Lol, just goes to show everything that once cost not much inflated with time ❤

  2. What an interesting history, Deborah. “Too lenient on witches.” Wow. I would love to stay at that place for a night and learn more about it. Thanks for the tour!

    1. I was taken with that description – I think I would have liked the guy!

  3. Such a treat to see your pics of Skail House. I visited it a few times when I was a kid. I have two Orkney chairs, both made by a relative, they are so precious to me. xxx

    1. If only I hadn’t lost such a large chunk of the photos I took! I’m usually so careful, I have no idea how I managed to delete them before transferring them to the laptop 😦
      Are the chairs comfortable? They look almost like something to be admired for the construction, rather than used as seats.

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