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Scalloway Castle is a sophisticated and impressive example of a late 1500s tower house in Shetland. It was the home of Patrick Stewart, earl of Orkney and Shetland.

Visting Scalloway in 1814, Scott reflected on the castle and the Earl's tyrannical rule over Shetland.

It was from his castle at Scalloway that Earl Patrick Stewart administered ‘justice’, often serving his own ends. His oppressive regime earned him bitter enemies among the islanders, and he fell from favour at court. While imprisoned, he orchestrated a rebellion in Orkney. His supporters were defeated, and he was beheaded in Edinburgh in 1615.

Listen to ‘Tyranny and Oppression’

Walter Scott’s thoughts on Earl Patrick Stewart from when he visited Scalloway in 1814.

Read ‘Tyranny and Oppression’

We reach Scalloway and visit the ruins of an old castle, composed of a double tower or keep with turrets at the corners. It...is of very recent date, being built in 1600.

It was built by Patrick Stewart, Earl of Orkney, afterwards deservedly executed in Edinburgh for many acts of tyranny and oppression. It was this rapacious Lord who imposed many of those heavy duties still levelled from the Zetlanders by Lord Dundas.

The exactions by which he accomplished this erection were represented as grievous: the King’s tenants were forced to work in quarries, transport stone, dig, delve, climb and build, and submit to all possible sorts of servile and painful labour, without either meat, drink, hire or recompense of any kind.

‘My father’, said Earl Patrick, ‘built his house at Sumburgh on the sand and it has given way already; this of mine on the rock shall abide and endure.’… But the huge tower remains wild and desolate, its chambers filled with sand and its rifted walls and dismantled battlements giving unrestrained access to the roaring seablast.

Sir Walter Scott - Celebrating 250 Years

In 2021-22, Scotland celebrates the 250th anniversary of one of its most famous sons, Sir Walter Scott. This online exhibition and audio trail of his legacies is part of the celebrations.

'Tyranny and Oppression' has been performed by Edinburgh actor Gavin Paul, who is looking forward to visiting some of these important historical sights.