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Community / Unst castle goes up for auction

Photo © Colin Park (cc-by-sa/2.0)

A 16TH century castle in Unst is going up for auction – with offers for the building and its surrounding land starting at £130,000.

Muness Castle was built for Laurence Bruce of Cultmalindie in the late 1500s.

The auction listing includes 240 acres of land and a number of mainly derelict croft buildings.

But the jewel in the crown is the A-listed castle, which is naturally Britain’s most northerly.

It was abandoned and roofless by the later 18th century, and passed into state care in 1956.

The ground and first floors survive are almost intact but the attic storey above is now only partial.

The castle forms a rectangular block 22.3 by 7.9 metres, with circular towers at the north and south angles

It is currently maintained by Historic Environment Scotland.

The castle is said to be one of the main visitor attraction sites in Unst and is free to enter, year-round.

The auction listing says it also comes with a “Barony title and mineral rights”.

It says that gold and copper reserves were discovered in a recently commissioned geological survey.

Historic Environment Scotland said the main historical associations of Muness Castle are with its builders, the Bruce family, and their relationship with the Stewart earls of Orkney.

“Their initially warm relationship became increasingly acrimonious and the rivalry affected many local landowners and ordinary Shetlanders,” the agency wrote in a ‘statement of significance’ for the castle.

“Indeed, both families were held up as corrupt and exploitative landlords against whom many petitions were presented to the Scottish court.”

Bidding on the online auction closes in four days.

Historic Environment Scotland said after the publication of this article that the maintenance arrangements for the castle would not be affected by the sale of the land.

This is because it is a property in care of Scottish Ministers under legislation.

The land, meanwhile, is crofting land and divided into at least five different crofts.

Scottish Parliament election, 6 May 2021