Orkney Islands, Scotland

Sunday, 7:00 am – 5:00 pm

May weather: Average temps of 53°/42°F. Record temps of 71°/28°F. Average precip of 1.9″.

Currency: Pounds Sterling (£). Three Scottish banks issue their own banknotes.

Starting out

The Stones of Stenness

Maes Howe

Ring of Brogdar

Lunch at the Merkister Hotel

Skara Brae

Skail House

Broch of Gurness

Plan for the Day

The ship docks in Halston Pier, which is approximately 2 miles outside Kirkwall.

Orkney is an archipelago of around 70 islands.  About a third of the islands are inhabited.  Kirkwall is in the center of the Mainland island and is the capital of Orkney.  (Kirkwall history from undiscoveredscotland.com)

Places we are going to visit

There are four areas to the Heart of Neolithic Orkney.  Skara Brae and Maeshow are the ones that particularly interest me,  Stones of Stenness and Ring of Brodgar are both ceremonial stone circles and we’ll be seeing those, too.

  • Stones of Stenness is a stone circle and henge and may be the earliest ones in the British Isles.  It now lacks its ditch and bank.
  • Maeshowe Chambered Cairn was built before 2700 BC. The large mound covers a stone built passage and a burial chamber with cells in the walls. Tours start at 10:00 am and are on the hour.  Open 9:30 – 5:00.  Advance reservations are required.  (ours is 10:00)  Admission: £5.50.

We’ll be having a soup and salad luncheon at the Merkister Hotel at noon.

  • Skara Brae Prehistoric Village (Historic Scotland’s site) (Britain Express site) was uncovered in a storm in 1850 and is the best preserved pre-Neolithic village in northern Europe.  It pre-dates Stonehenge.  This is definitely something I want to see–it’s said to be incredibly well preserved–you can even see stone furniture from 5,000 years ago.  Open 9:30 – 5:30.  Admission: £7.10. Joint ticket with Skaill House.
  • The Broch of Gurness is an iron-age settlement that began between 500 and 200 BC.  The broch and broch village have been archaeologically excavated. Admission: £5.50