Culture

Take A Guided Tour Round Kirkwall’s Palaces

The Bishop’s and Earl’s Palaces in Kirwall have reopened to visitors for guided tours.

Bishops and Earls Palaces as seen from the top of St Magnus Cathedral

The palaces are the latest Historic Environment Scotland (HES) sites to reopen in Orkney joining Skara Brae and Broch of Gurness at Evie.

Historic Environment Scotland has recently also reopened the Maeshowe visitor centre in Stenness. While the Maeshowe chambered cairn itself remains closed due to COVID space restrictions, visitors will be able to enjoy an introductory talk highlighting Orkney’s heritage, browse interpretation information about the cairn and its world heritage Ranger base as well as accessing the on-site facilities and gift shop.

The latest site reopenings are part of HES’s ongoing phased programme across the country, with more than 70% of its ticketed and free to access attractions opening again since the end of April.

Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of HES said:

“We are pleased to have recently reopened  more of our sites on Orkney, providing visitors with the opportunity to enjoy much loved heritage attractions once again.

“With over 5,000 years of history in our care, we’ve adopted a phased approach to reopening, providing as diverse a mix of attractions as possible, as well as reviewing and implementing the individual reopening requirements of each site, in line with Scottish Government guidance.

“We are now looking forward to welcoming visitors back to even more sites, providing further opportunity to enjoy Scotland’s diverse and globally renowned historic environment.”

As before, safety measures will be in place at all sites, with visitors wearing face coverings in indoor locations and in some enclosed spaces where social distancing can’t be easily maintained. There will also be an initial capacity management on numbers and one-way systems will be in place in some locations. For the parts of several sites where access is currently restricted, a programme of agile interpretation has been developed which can be accessed via QR codes and includes digital film or audio to further enhance the visitor experience.

All sites will follow the HES minimum operating standards, which were developed to set a benchmark for the safe reopening of historic sites and resumption of operational activities.

Tickets should be booked online in advance from the HES website and are now on sale. To book and for more information on further HES sites reopening visit: restarthistory.scot

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Bishop’s Palace Kirkwall

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