Orkney World Heritage Tour

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Back in 1999 four of Orkney’s pre-history sites gained the UNESCO World Heritage Site award, let me guide you to these four sites known as ‘Neolithic Orkney’.

Let’s start with Maeshowe, Orkney’s finest and largest chambered cairn (tomb), marvel at the most amazing Viking graffiti making this one of the largest gatherings of Norse runic inscriptions outside Scandinavia. Hear how Neolithic people, from 5000 years ago, buried their dead and how the winter solstice setting sun shines directly down the entrance passage into Maeshowe.

Maes Howe - photo by Charles TaitMaes Howe - photo by Charles Tait

Stepping back a further 300 years we will then visit the Standing Stones of Stenness a stone circle which originally had 12 monoliths and is a diameter of 30m. There are a few possible solar and lunar alignments which makes it likely that this was part of Neolithic ritual, or was it? There are many questions that remain unanswered but what we do know, through radiocarbon testing, is the date of this henge monument, 3100BC.

Standing stones of Stenness - photo by Charles Tait

Just along the road and past the Watchstone, situated on the Bridge of Brodgar, we will pass the Ness of Brodgar. An archeological dig has been carried out on the Ness of Brodgar every year since a Geophysical survey in 2003 revealed up to twelve possible structures over an area roughly 125m by 75m. The largest structure measuring 20m squared with walls 5m thick has been named the Neolithic Cathedral. The oldest radiocarbon dates found so far are 3500BC raising even more questions about this ceremonial site, certainly highlighting it’s importance to Stone Age Orcadians. This site can be visited for an 8 week period over July and August.

Ness of Brodgar - photo by Charles Tait

No distance and we arrive at the Ring of Brodgar one of the finest stone circles, originally 60 stones now 27 stand tall around a perfect circle with a diameter of 103.7m with these stones being placed approximately 6 degrees apart. The surrounding ditch was originally 5m wide and 4m deep, imagine digging this out using only stone and bone tools. Hear about how this site was used for approximately 2000 years from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age.

Ring of Brodgar - photo by Charles Tait
Ring of Brodgar by moonlight - photo by Charles TaitRing of Brodgar - photo by Charles Tait

Travelling 6 miles we head for the last of the four World Heritage Sites where we can clearly imagine what life was like living in Orkney 5000 years ago. Skara Brae is a remarkably well preserved Neolithic village which was only revealed following a fierce storm back in 1850 when the sand dune that covered it was partially washed away. Subsequent archeological studies have identified that this settlement was occupied for 600 years and possibly even longer. Hear about the 2 distinct architectural features that have luckily been preserved through the site being sensitively treated by archeologists. There will be the opportunity to visit one of Orkney’s finest manor houses, Skaill House, situated next door to Skara Brae. Hear about William Watt’s part in the discovery of Skara Brae and how he used his home, Skaill House, as a museum displaying his many finds from Skara Brae of jewelry, tools and earthenware.

Skara Brae - photo by Charles Tait

  • Orkney Pre-History Tour

  • Scapa Flow Tour

  • The Orkney Tour

  • Tasting Orkney Tour

Happy Visitors

  • “So glad we got Lizzie as our tour guide, she was really enthusiastic about Orkney and this certainly rubbed off on us as we were taken to amazing places. We can see why Lizzie loves her home. Thanks for making our visit to Orkney so enjoyable and memorable.”

    — Jack and Audrey, Melbourne, Australia – 2017

  • “We only had a peedie visit to Orkney but had a great time with Lizzie as our guide. She even taught us some Orcadian words!”

    — Peter & Jack

  • “We want to come back! Had a great day with Lizzie, she certainly made sure we had a fantastic tour, love Orkney.”

    — Paula and Donna, New York – Aug 17

  • “Lizzie’s wonderful accent, her engaging personality and local knowledge has resulted in a great Orkney experience, thank you so much.”

    — Colin and Linda, Cornwall – July 2017

  • “Spending the morning visiting and learning about Skara Brae and the Ring of Brodgar was wonderful and made even more special with Lizzie whose warm personality shone through.”

    — J & G Buckland, Dorset – June 2017

  • “Thanks Lizzie I had a brilliant day, being my first time on a tour I now want to do more.“

    — Anne Bryan, Hampshire – June 2017

  • “Our tour with Lizzie was a wonderful and magical experience. We have learnt so much and will be back for sure!”

    — Maggie from Dublin