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Community / Muness Castle proves difficult to sell

Meanwhile, Shetland’s other castle ruin, at Scalloway, could be closed to the public for as long as four years to allow for essential repairs

Muness Castle in Unst. Photo: Future Property Auctions

SCOTLAND’s most northerly castle at Muness, on the island of Unst, is back on the market after a previous buyer pulled out when they learned about crofting law.

Deadline for offers to buy the 16th century A-listed castle plus 160 acres of crofting land is this Friday afternoon. The ‘guide price’ this time is in the region of £175,000.

Castle owner Gavin Forbes Farquhar has been trying to offload the property for some time with little success.

“The previous people buying it pulled out once they got an understanding of crofting law, and didn’t understand that when you own something in Scotland you don’t really own it,” the property developer said.

“It attracts a lot of interest from foreign buyers, but foreign buyers don’t exactly understand Scottish legislation.

“If you live in America or Canada and you buy a bit of ground, that bit of ground is yours, and nobody has any rights on it. That is totally different with crofting legislation, with farming legislation, and is totally different now with privately rented cottages.”

The roofless castle was built Laurence Bruce of Cultmalindie in 1598, the half brother of Robert Stewart, notorious in the isles for his tyrannical rule. Abandoned in the late 18th century, the castle is today in the care of Historic Environment Scotland.

The property is advertised as possibly coming with a barony title but this has previously been dismissed by local historian Brian Smith.

The latest listing appears to have toned down the mention of the barony title, stating that formal investigations have not taken place into whether a title does exist.

Farquhar said he has had offers in the past and would try to continue selling until an acceptable offer was received.

“We had a couple of offers which we rejected. If the money is not right we are not selling,” he said.

He previously told Shetland News that his reason for selling up was because of the Scottish Government offering “no encouragement for anybody to do anything in the capitalist economy”.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that Scalloway Castle could be closed to the public for four years to allow essential repairs to the stonework.

Custodians Historic Environment Scotland say the weather has taken its toll since the 16th century building last underwent major conservation work in the 1970s.

It has already been shut for some time, due to the risk of falling masonry. Work on a major programme of repairs to the stonework is expected to start in September.