The island of Wyre Lies close to Rousay at the eastern end of the Eynhallow
Sound. The island is fairly small, being roughly 3.5 kilometres by 1.5 kilometres,
and is largely farmland. It does however, possess one superb historical
site that is well worth visiting.
The Sagas record that in the mid 12th century, a famous Norwegian named
Kolbein Hruga lived on Wyre, and that he built a stone castle as a stronghold
for his family. This is Cubbie Roo's castle, Cubbie Roo being a corruption
of Kolbein Hruga. The castle withstood at least one siege when the assassins
of Earl Haraldson took refuge there in 1231 to avoid the revenge of the
Earl's friends and allies.
The original building was a simple stone tower roughly 8 metres square with
walls 1.7m thick surrounded by a rock-cut ditch 2 metres deep. A strong
stone wall 2 metres thick was built on the inner side of the ditch, and
inside of the wall, a second shallow ditch was excavated to leave a central
platform for the tower. The buildings surrounding the tower were added at
a later date.
Aerial view of Cubbie Roo's Castle
(C) Richard Welsby
The castle stands close to St Mary's Chapel, a 12th century church thought
likely to have been founded by Kolbein Hruga or his son.
Photograph courtesy of Richard Welsby
Copyright Orknet 1996