Orkney Things to Do

  • Earl's Palace - inside, 1st floor
    Earl's Palace - inside, 1st floor
    by iaint
  • Earl's Palace - again, 1st floor
    Earl's Palace - again, 1st floor
    by iaint
  • the 3 main stones
    the 3 main stones
    by iaint

Orkney Things to Do

  • Barony Mill - Just Here for the Bere!

    Bere has grown in Orkney for thousands of years, both for human and animal food. It has been the staff of life in Orkney - in the form of bere bannocks and home-brewed ale. An ancient barley, it differs in appearance and taste from modern varieties. You easily tell the difference between ale made from barley and that made from bere. The same...

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  • Marwick Head - a Walk on the Wild Side!

    The fairly steep path up from the car park, just off the B9056 road, is bordered with a carpet of sea thrift, sea campion and orache. After about a mile the top of Marwick Head is reached - possibly the most majestic sea cliffs on Orkney. There are views from here north to the island of Westray and south to that of Hoy and the more distant Scottish...

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  • Covenanter's Memorial - man's inhumanity...

    Under the command of Captain Patterson, the Crown of London set sail from Leith in December 1679. On December 10, 1679, she sheltered behind a headland in the parish of Deerness in Orkney - two miles away lay the sheltered bay of Deer Sound which would have providing a safer anchorage. The gale force winds snapped the anchor chain and drove the...

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  • Italian Chapel and Churchhill Barriers

    The dark form of U47 glistened momentary in the hooded lights of a car. The rusting hulls of sunken ships sealing the entrance broke her outline and made her almost invisible. She rose on a wave and surged into the anchorage through a gap in the defences at high tide of the naval anchorage at Scapa Flow at Holm Sound. Finding only the outdated...

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  • Scara Brae - Neolithic Settlement

    Scara Brae village, not far from present-day Stromness, sat snugly by a freshwater lake. The villagers were farmers who bred sheep and cows, grew cereal crops, and hunted red deer, boar, rabbits, and hares. Fish were plentiful. Over time an organised community had developed.Using the materials to hand, huts had been built. The walls were built of...

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  • Ring of Brodgar and Maeshowe

    The homes, burial tombs and ceremonial centres of the long ago inhabitants of the islands remain. Their thoughts and beliefs remain a puzzle. Somewhere in their belief set was the need for giant circles formed from ‘Standing Stones’. Were these the centres of government, of religion, or marking out heavenly alignments or perhaps simply meeting...

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  • Orkney's Neolithic Cathedral

    Scrape the surface of Orkney and it bleeds archaeology. Partly this is because of easily quarried good building stone (Orkney flagstone) and the absence of trees. It meant that buildings once build would leave a trace behind. Two of the remarkable examples are: the stone age village of Scara Brae which predates the pyramids by two thousand years,...

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  • Longhope Lifeboat Museum

    In our whiz around Hoy we came to the lifeboat museum and stopped for a look around. The people of Hoy have a long and proud association with the Longhope lifeboat, having supplied the crew since 1874. The current boat is mooring at Longhope pier however a shed at Brims on the south coast housed previous ones. From it they launched down a slipway....

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  • Lyness Interpretation Centre

    The Scapa Flow Visitor Centre at Lyness on the island of Hoy gives an insight into Scapa Flow’s importance to the Royal Navy during both World Wars. Originally built to supply fuel to the British Fleet much of the naval base has disappeared. One oil storage tank remains. Restored it houses large exhibits, including a searchlight, bren-gun carrier...

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  • St. Margaret's Hope

    Visitors to Orkney using the Pentland Ferries route from Gill’s Bay near John o' Groats in Caithness land in St Margaret’s Hope. Usually they hasten on without pausing to look around them. Usually we do the same but on this occasion we had booked the lease of a cottage in the village for a week so we explored the village and the surrounding area...

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  • A visit to North Hoy

    Our most intense trip in the Orkney Islands was indeed our day on North Hoy. We arrived to Stromness by bus from Kirkwall. In Stromness we took the Gramsey Ferry to North Hoy. This is a non-cargo ferry. If one wish to access Hoy Island by car you need to border from Lyness. North Hoy is a remote place. Most of the island considered Nature reserve....

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  • Orkney Fossils and Heritage Museum

    The Fossil and Heritage Centre on the small island of Burray is a quaint find. It houses THOUSANDS of years of Orkney's history, ranging from dinosaur and other prehistoric fossils, right up through ancient history of the stone ages, through to modern history of the 20th century world wars and beyond.It really is such an interesting museum, I have...

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  • High cliffs at Yesnaby

    A wonderful place for a walk. The path takes you right along the cliff edge (not too close of course...) with a great view of the Atlantic.

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  • Lambholm 'Italian Chapel'

    This incredible building was constructed by Italian prisoners of war between 1943 and 1945, often from unlikely materials. The body of the chapel is formed from two Nissan huts. Anyone who has seen the ugly interior of an ordinary corrugated iron Nissan hut will marvel that a thing of beauty can be fashioned from it - especially in such...

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  • 5000 year old Tomb, Artefacts

    The Tomb of the Eagles is a tomb dated at around 3000 BC, named after the many eagle talons found amongst the burials. It was actually found and excavated by a farmer in the 1950's, who is still there and gives a talk in one of the ancient houses on site.There is a Stone Age tomb, a Bronze Age house and you can look at all the Neolithic artefacts...

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  • Tomb of the Eagles

    Another important archaelogical find and a top place to visit on Orkney. It's probably best to do it when visiting the southern islands (connected to the mainland via the Churchill Barriers). The tomb is quite close to the cliff edge. Visitors first need to report to the centre and buy a ticket. You then get briefed about the site and get to...

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  • Skara Brae

    This is possibly one of the most famous sites on Orkney. It is very impressive, and with its location on the coast (Bay of Skaill) it makes it all the more worthwhile. The ticket also covers you for Skaill house, which is worth a look, although personally the Neolithic village is the main draw. After the admissions desk you visit an exhibition...

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  • Mawes Howe

    One of the most impressive archaeological sites in Orkney. There are more questions than answers with this burial tomb, which makes it a fascinating place to come and visit. First things first: it can get busy and because of this there is a ticket allocation system. All tickets need to be collected/reserved at the nearby Tormiston Mill. Once you've...

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  • Birdwatching at Marwick Head

    Marwick Head at Birsay is where you will see the memorial to Kitchener and (hopefully) Puffins.If the name seems familiar, the face of Kitchener is what you see on that famous WWII poster "Your country needs YOU".Lord Kitchener and his crew were drowned off the coast in 1916 when their ship, the HMS Hampshire, on its way to Russia, was either hit...

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  • Maes Howe

    Maes Howe is a 5000 year old chambered tomb, possibly the finest in Europe, and is a fascinating place to visit. It has been designated a World Heritage Site, along with other sites on Orkney such as the Ring of Brogar, Skara Brae and the Stones of Stenness.Maes Howe can be seen very clearly from quite a distance, as intended by those who built it....

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  • The Ring o'Bordgar

    The Ring of Brodgar on Orkney is wonderful, it is a World Heritage Site. I have a love of standing stones and stone circles and try to see as many as possible. The Ring of Brodgar belongs to a class of monument known as a HENGE. During the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC many stone, timber and earthern monuments were created that seem to have had a...

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  • The Standing Stones of Stenness

    Close to the Ring of Brodgar this circle is about 30 metres across and in the centre is a square stone setting which looks like a giant hearth made of four stones making a 2 metre square. There is also traces of a timber and stone setting leading from the centre to the entrance. Animal bones have been found in the ditch which may have been the...

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  • Unstan cairn

    A well preserved chambered cairn, it is much smaller than Maes Howe but still worth visiting. Unstan Cairn is on a small promontory, which juts out into the Stenness Loch. From the outside the cairn actually looks a bit like Maeshowe only smaller. The inside though the tomb structure is different although sharing some of the same architectural...

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  • the cathedral in Kirkwall

    St Magnus is a lovely sandstone cathedral, it has a lot of very interesting tombs, one of which is the 12th century patron saint. The cathedral stands amongst little narrow streets - making it a bit difficukt to get on the photo. There are seats around the cathedral ground - a good place to rest and people watch. Directly across the street from the...

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  • The earth house at Kirkwall

    An underground house.... it is a bit small and very dark. It is perhaps difficult to find because you do not expect to be looking from an ancient underground house in the middle of an industrial estate! The house is about 2 metres underground is a wonderful example of an Iron Age earth house. An underground house.... it is a bit small and very dark...

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  • Lord Kitchener Memorial

    This large monument is dedicated to Lord Kitchener who died when HMS Hampshire sank near the spot in 1916. It is easy to see from the road but quite a walk from the car park, up a hill and along a cliff. It will take a good ten minutes to walk to. The views from the cliff are quite stunning.

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  • Skaill House (see Skara Brae)

    Skaill House is a 17th century mansion that was originally built for Bishop George Graham in 1620. It is full of antiques including books, pictures and furniture and is a nice museum type place to look through. It has joint admission with the nearby Skara Brae prehistoric village.Open daily from April - September 9.30am to 6.30pm. Last admission...

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  • Skara Brae Neolithic Village (see Skaill...

    Skara Brae is a 5000 year old village discovered during a storm after being lost for thousands of years. There is a lot of information about the houses including the fact that they had stone beds and dressing tables / cabinets etc. There are ten very well preserved houses to see from a trail around the top. You can't go into the houses but tehre is...

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  • Cliff Walk - Views and an Ancient...

    There is a beautiful walk you can do in the Deerness area at a place called Mull Head. The walk goes for 3.5 miles and is along a cliff which is rocky at times and very windy so you will need a wind proof jacket and sturdy walking shoes/boots. I went as far as the Brough of Deerness which is actually a ruined ancient monastery with a plaque telling...

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  • Standing Stone Ring of Brogar

    This massive circle comprises 36 huge stones, originally 60, was built in the third millenium BC. It is amazing to think that these people of long ago would build such a circle. It is close to the Standing Stones of Stenness, but the Ring of Brogar is frequented by many tourists and may be somewhat crowded, making for a difficult picture.

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  • Standing Stones of Steness

    The Standing Stones of Steness (which also means stones; 'the stones of stones'!) is a small circle of upright flat stones from the third millenium BC. It now has only 3 large standing stones but it originally had 12. I like this circle much more than the Ring of Brogar, a huge circle just a mile away. Steness is much less crowded and feels more...

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  • Chapel built by Italian POWs

    On one of the smallest islands in Orkney, Lamb Holm, the Italian Chapel was built by the Italian prisoners of war in WW2 during the time they were forced to build the Churchill barriers (to prevent enemy ships from passing between the islands). It is an interesting piece of architecture as it is made from Nissen huts and the inside has a curved...

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  • The Finest Chambered Tomb in Western...

    Maes Howe is a really cool, really old tomb built before 2700 BC. It was raided by Vikings in the 12th century who broke in through the roof to collect the spoils within. One of the most intreresting things about this tomb is that the Vikings left graffiti messages all over the walls! Some of them are translated on information boards outside...

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  • Birdwatching on Westray with a bike

    The best birdwatching site in Orkney! Westray island, one of the most northern of the Orcadian islands. I took a bike here and used it as my only means of transportation. It is a bit hilly...would be better for someone who cycles more often.The spots I visited and highly recommend:- Castle of Burrian: a short walk (15 minutes) will get you to some...

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  • Old Man of Hoy (3)

    I added this picture just to give some colour to what I'm saying.I have never been there, I repeat, but I think it is important to say the the Isle of Hoy also hosts the Scapa Flow Visitor Centre, a naval museum about the times when Scapa Flow was the main base of the Royal Navy. Many important pages of history have been written here.

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  • Old Man of Hoy (4)

    The Old Man of Hoy is not the highest point along the coastline, anyway, here is another picture taken a bit later, when I was south of it, that shows the big tower with the enormous cliffs of the St. John head behind.The perspective game doesn't show that St. John's Head was far behind the Old Man of Hoy. That cliff is actually 346 meters high,...

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  • Old Man of Hoy (2)

    I have not visited the island, but I read something about it.Its name, in ancient norse, means "high Island" because it holds the highest hill in the Orkney Islands (439 meters) and some spectacular cliffs.The most famous landmark here is the Old Man of Hoy, anyway, that is an enormous tower 137 meters high, carved by the winds and the sea.

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  • Old Man of Hoy

    One more marvel was still to see before leaving the Orkney archpelago, the ferry sails southbound towards the mainland passing close the island of Hoy, the second largest in the archpelago.The landmark this time is the well known Old Man of Hoy, an enoronus standing stone close to the island.A good coat is necessary because strong winds early in...

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  • Leaving the Orkney Islands

    the second part of our Scotland tour started there, at the Stromness dock, taking the ferry back to Scrabster and the Scottish Mainland.The ferry left at 6.30 AM, on a grey morning.A sad feeling embraced me as I was leaving one of the most thrilling places I have ever visited in Europe.The lighthouse of the Graemsay small island in the distance...

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  • Kirkwall - Earl's Palace (4)

    This picture has been taken from the best point of view to show how close the three main monuments in Kirkwall actually stand.Right side, the Earl's PalaceLeft side (hardly visible, I admit it) the Bishop's Palace. Front of you, the St. Magnus Cathedral.There really were just a few people visiting the place, unlike the crowded Ring of Brodgar, and...

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  • Kirkwall - Earl's Palace (3)

    the phrase under the picture is taken by a song of Alan Parsons Project. I was on top of the castle, at the end of that luckily sunny day, to enjoy the sight of the Earl's Palace.We aere planning, that morning go to and see more, like the Tomb of the Eagles and the Italian Chapel in South Ronaldsay, but dropped that chance due to fatigue.It has...

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  • Kirkwall - Earl's Palace (2)

    This picture testify what I was saying- Earl's Palace is actually a ruin, but still in a well shape.This corridor runs through the ground level, just behind the entrance.The ground level, as usual in these cases, was dedicated to service areas, like kitchens and storage rooms.If I remember correctly there is a room where a TV shows a documentary...

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  • Kirkwall - Earl's Palace

    Just in front of the Bishop's palace lies within a small park, the Earl's Palace, residence of the Lords of the Orkney Islands.This is an exceptionally well conserved building, even still being a ruin. It is possible to walk of to the first and second floor, it definitely deserve a visit.The ticket is cumulative for both the Earl's Palace and the...

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  • Kirkwall - Bishop's Palace (2)

    The older Bishop's Palace now lies across a road from the Earl's Palace and offers less immediate insight into how it would have looked in use. For many, however, the real joy of the Bishop's Palace lies in the stunning views it gives of St Magnus Cathedral. Seen from within the remains of the great hall the spire of the Cathedral seems to rise...

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  • Kirkwall - Bishop's Palace

    Rounding the corner of St Magnus Cathedral, you are confronted by a large circular tower on the opposite side of the street. This is not as you might think a castle: Kirkwall's castle was destroyed in 1614 and no trace of it now remains. Instead it was a later phase of the Bishop's Palace, built for Bishop William the Old in the 1150s, and known as...

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Orkney Things to Do

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