The ruined 16th century palace of Robert Stewart, Earl of Orkney and half-brother of Mary Queen of Scots, dominates the village and gives it its name. The Palace is the village at the heart of the parish of Birsay. It lies in the “Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site” and straddles Orkney’s west and north coasts. As a result, the coastal walks are dramatic and the sunsets are uninterrupted. Snusan House sits at the highest point in the village, making it a fantastic vantage point for this special Orkney location.


Snusan House
Linkshouse Road
Orkney KW17 2LX

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Within easy walking distance of Snusan House:

  • The Brough of Birsay tidal island
  • Marwick Head & Kitchener monument
  • The Earl of Orkney’s Palace
  • Skippi Geo coastal path
  • Trout fishing at Boardhouse Loch
  • Birsay Bay Tea Room
  • Palace Stores

Go north or south from Snusan House and dramatic walks await. Walk to the point and round the ‘Skiba Geo’ path with its historic boat nousts and the whale bone landmark. To the south, head up the cliff path to the Kitchener Memorial and some of the finest views in Orkney

You can roam the shore, explore the rock pools or build a sand castle, all within a few meters of Snusan House. The St Magnus Way footpath takes you right along the shore.

At low tide, cross the causeway to explore the Brough of Birsay island, with its Pictish and Norse settlements. Walk round its coast to reach the sea-bird colonies on the cliffs beyond the lighthouse.

Our neighbours:

  • Puffins on the Brough and at Marwick Head
  • Seals lazing on the rocks in the bay
  • Great Skuas stalking the coast for prey
  • The occasional Orca pod or Minky Whale
  • The Pier Arts Centre – Linkshouse
  • Barony Mill – working meal water mill
  • Kirbuster Museum
  • Swannay Brewery

From a Pictish centre of power in the 6th century, to a Norse settlement in the 9th century, the Brough of Birsay has long been important in Orkney’s history. Today, you can stand in the footprint of the tiny church that formed part of the island’s monastic settlement

Kitchener’s Memorial commemorates the loss of HMS Hampshire and 737 lives on the evening of 5 June 1916. It had struck a German mine. Kitchener, his crew and the Hampshire lie around 2 miles west of The Palace.

The whale bone is thought to have stood guard over the Skiba Geo path since around 1876. Whatever its original purpose, it remains as a physical reminder of the long connection and changing relationship between Orkney and the whales that pass through its waters

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