Live /

All our staffed properties, sites and offices remain closed and staff are working from home. Find out how we are working on plans to gradually reopen the historic places we care for.



Count the gunholes dotting the exterior of this unique and imposing castle.  

It was built for Gilbert Balfour, master of Mary Queen of Scots household, Sheriff of Orkney, Constable of Kirkwall Castle and a man who had need for strong defences. 

Balfour was implicated in the murder of Cardinal Beaton at St Andrews and that of Mary’s second husband, Henry Lord Darnley. 

After Mary’s arrest, Balfour retired to Noltland Castle, where the 71 gun holes that dot its walls would have provided him some reassurance. The castle is as much a fortress as it is a noble residence, though it seems it was never completed. 

Historic Scotland

Opening times

1 Apr to 30 Sept:
Daily, 9.30am to 5.30pm
Last entry 5pm

1 Oct to 31 Mar:
Daily, 10am to 4pm
Last entry 3.30pm


Download our visitor app

Discover more on the go – the Historic Scotland app lets you find out about Scotland’s most iconic places wherever you are.

Save with an Explorer Pass

Get free entry to Scotland’s top visitor attractions with an Explorer Pass valid for 5 or 14 consecutive days.

Become a member

Join Historic Scotland to visit our properties free of charge for a full year and support our work at the same time.

Hire a site for filming

Use one of our fantastic locations on your next shoot for an awe-inspiring backdrop to your work.

View learning activities

Our 300+ historic places serve as creative inspiration for all sorts of learning activities – and for learners of all ages.

Search our events

See the past brought to life by the imaginative year-round programme of events at our properties.