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Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.


Status: Designated


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  • Category: A
  • Date Added: 08/12/1971


  • Local Authority: Orkney Islands
  • Planning Authority: Orkney Islands
  • Burgh: Kirkwall

National Grid Reference

  • NGRHY 44850 10869
  • Coordinates344850, 1010869


Earlier 16th century, extended 1574, (north range), and circa 1722, (west range), re-modelled circa 1820, extended 18th-19th century, (south range), restored, 1968, Number 41 absorbed into museum, 1999. Complex of crowstepped-gabled asymmetrical buildings enclosing a square-plan courtyard; N and E ranges linked by round-arched access gateway from Broad Street. E RANGE, to Broad Street: 2-storey, 5-bay rectangular-plan block with narrow forestair to N gable. N RANGE: 2-storey and attic, 4-bay block with 3-bay gabled elevation to street and full-height, square-plan gabled stair tower to outer right (E). W and S RANGES: L-plan, completing courtyard with irregular 3 bays to each range. Harled with sandstone ashlar dressings. Chamfered reveals to dressed openings. NUMBER 41: 18th century with later alterations. 2-storey, 3-bay, symmetrical rectangular-plan crowstepped-gabled house abutting Tankerness House to left (N), (listed separately), with full-height lean-to projection to rear (W) and chamfered SE angle. Harled. Block cills to enlarged ground floor windows.

NUMBERS 35-39:

E RANGE: E (BROAD STREET) ELEVATION: deep-set, part-glazed door at ground in bay to centre with small window flanking to right. Large window in each of 2 bays to right and in bay to left. 5 regularly disposed windows at 1st floor above.

W (REAR, COURTYARD) ELEVATION: small central window at 1st floor. Window at ground in bay to outer left. S range abutting bay to outer right.

GATEWAY (BROAD STREET): corbelled parapet bearing armorial panel and date, '1574', linking N and E ranges.

N RANGE: E (BROAD STREET) ELEVATION: 2-bay gabled group to right: small window, set low, at ground in bay to centre; non-aligned window at each floor, above; window at ground and 1st floors in bay to right; gablehead stack above. Boarded door with small window flanking to left at ground in bay to left; window at 1st floor above.

S (COURTYARD) ELEVATION: boarded door at ground with window, offset to left at 1st floor to stair tower to outer right; square block finial to gablehead above; window between ground and 1st floors in left return. 3-bay group left: window at each floor in bay to centre and to right. Timber-panelled door at ground in bay to left; small window, set close to angle to outer left; window at each floor above.

W RANGE: E (COURTYARD)ELEVATION: 2-leaf boarded doors at in bay to centre; tall window at 1st floor above. Window at ground with tall window at 1st floor above in bay to right. Tall window at 1st floor in bay to left.

W (GARDEN) ELEVATION: irregular, 8-bay, grouped 2-5-1, with tall windows at 1st floor; advanced flanking groups gabled. 5-bay central group: part-glazed door at ground in bay to centre; window at 1st floor above. Small window at ground in bay to right; window at 1st floor above. Window at 1st floor in bay to outer right. Window at each floor in each bay to left. 2-bay group to left: window at each floor in each bay; gablehead stack above; part-glazed door at ground with window at 1st floor in right return. Single bay group to right; window at ground and 1st floor, set to left; gablehead stack above.

S RANGE: N (COURTYARD) ELEVATION: irregular 3-bay. Window at each floor in bay offset to left of centre. Window at ground to right. Window at 1st floor to outer right. Small window at each floor in bay to outer left.

S (SIDE) ELEVATION: irregular, 5-bay with nepus gable over 2-bay group to left of centre. Window at each floor to gabled group; 2 small attic windows to nepus; gablehead stack above. Non-aligned window at each floor in bay to outer left. Window at each floor in bay to right. Window at ground in bay to penultimate right. window at ground with tripartite window at 1st floor in bay to outer right.

Variety of glazing patterns, including 6-, 12- and 18-pane timber sash and case windows. Traditional graded stone tiled roofs; stone ridges; harled, corniced gablehead and ridge stacks; stone skews; cavetto-moulded skewputts to nepus gable; skweputts to stair tower with initials, 'MGF' and 'EK'; monogram 'IHS' to SE skewputt of W range; initials 'IHS' and 'MGF' to NE skewputt of W range, (see Notes); cast-iron rainwater goods.

INTERIOR: remodelled interiors to accommodate modern museum; north range rooms of circa 1820 remain extant; west range, 18th century panelling.


E (PRINCIPAL, BROAD STREET) ELEVATION: part-glazed timber-panelled door at ground in bay to centre; window at 1st floor above. Window at each floor in bays flanking.

W (REAR) ELEVATION: small window, set to right in projection to left of centre; modern part-glazed door with window at 1st floor above, in right return. 2 small windows at ground offset to right; tripartite window at 1st floor above.

S (SIDE) ELEVATION: window, set to right, at ground; gablehead stack above.

Predominantly 12- and 20-pane timber sash and case windows. Traditional graded stone tiled roof; stone ridge; harled, corniced gablehead stacks; cast-iron rainwater goods.

INTERIOR: converted as craft shop at ground; unseen above, 1998.

GARDEN WALLS; high, drystone rubble walls enclosing large rectangular-plan garden to rear, (W).

Statement of Special Interest

: A group of buildings which occupies a conspicuous site in the centre of Kirkwall, opposite the Cathedral, and is widely regarded as one the the most important early town houses in Scotland. The complex has various dates, the oldest, north range and gateway, was probably built for Mr Gilbert Falzie, the first post-Reformation minister of Kirkwall, and his wife, Elizabeth Kinnaird, in 1574; their initials are borne on the armorial panel over the gateway, along with a lengthy Latin inscription, 'PATRI[A]E ET POSTERIS / NISI DOMINVW CVSTODI / ERIT FRVSTA SEMEN / NOSTRVM SERV[I]ETIPS[I] / ANNO SALVTIS' and also on one of the skewputts. Originally comprising the manses of certain cathedral dignitaries, the plan laid out in MacGibbon and Ross' account shows the allocation of accommodation clearly. Number 41 Broad Street (abutting the original complex to the north and initially an integral part of it, reabsorbed 1999) was the Chancellery; the E range, the Sub-chantry; the north range, the Archdeaconry and the treasury combined. When it was acquired by James Baikie of Tankerness in 1641, it was consolidated and became known as Tankerness House. He lived in the house until 1670 and resided in the treasury; his son, Arthur, occupied the Archeadconry and his other son, Thomas, lived in the sub-chantry. Despite a range of dates, the group retains its character. In 1968 it was again restored for Kirkwall Burgh Council under Ian Lindsay & Partners to form the town's museum.



1st edition Ordnance Survey map, (1881), evident; D MacGibbon and T Ross, CASTELLATED AND DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE, (1887-1892), pp93-97; Hossack, KIRKWALL IN THE ORKNEYS, (1900), pp 227-228, 239-242; J Gunn, ORKNEY, THE MAGNETIC NORTH, (1932), p 90; A Ritchie, EXPLORING SCOTLAND'S HERITAGE, ORKNEY AND SHETLAND (RCAHMS), (1985), p 55; Leslie Burgher, ORKNEY, AN ILLUSTRATED ARCHITECTURAL GUIDE (1991), p 13; J Gifford, HIGHLAND AND ISLANDS, (Buildings of Scotland Series), (1992), pp 338-339; RCAHMS, INVENTORY OF MONUMENTS AND CONSTRUCTIONS IN THE COUNTY OF ORKNEY, pp 148-9; KIRKWALL PHOTOGRAPHIC ARCHIVE, 728.8; 2475, 2478-2483,2495.

About Designations

Listed Buildings

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest and these are selected according to criteria published in the, Annex 2, pp74-76.

The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Enquiries relating to works to listed buildings should be made to the local authority in the first instance. Listed building consent is required for works which a local authority considers will affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest and local authorities also decide if listed building consent is required.

Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The local authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see

Legislation introduced on 1 October 2015 allows us to state that: an object or structure fixed to the listed building; any object or structure within the curtilage of the listed building; and, any part or feature of the listed building that is not of architectural or historic interest may be excluded from a listing. If part of your building is not listed under the new legislation, the part will be excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

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