of Scotland, Orkney
A tour of Orkney's inhabited
islands takes the traveller back through man's history. Scattered
across the fertile, flat land are countless reminders of the people
who have lived here. Stone Age communities buried their dead in
skillfully constructed tombs. Iron Age families inhabited underground
earth houses. Celtic Christians founded monasteries, and Norse
earls designed great halls.
Ruins of palace built
by Earls of Orkney in late 16th century. Remains of 7th and 8th-century
Pictish settlement stand on Brough of Birsay island, reached by
foot at low tide. Ruins of Thorfinn the Mighty's Romanesque church,
shoreline ruins of his hall and outlines of Nurse longhouses.
One of several Neolithic
cairns on Rousay. Its megalithic burial chamber is 47ft long and
is split into seven separate stalls by standing slabs.
Atlantic winds provide
energy to power three wind turbine generators on windswept Mainland
hill-top. Visitor centre in summer.
Churchill ordered these
concrete causeways to be built in 1939 to block off eastern approach
to naval base at Scapa Flow. Some 250,000 tons of material were
used, linking largest island of Mainland with islands of Lamb
Holm, Glims Holm, Burray and South Ronaldsay.
Small turf-roofed building
on Mainland, Houses Orkney's only working corn mill, with wheel
set horizontally, not vertically. Based on Norse design, this
type was used by islanders for centuries. Signposted off 89057.
Small keep on Wyre, surrounded
by circular ditch, said to be Scotland's earliest stone castle.
Built in 12th century by Norse chief. In graveyard is ruined chapel,
possibly built by chief's son.
Bones of dogs and oxen
were found along with human remains inside this hillside Neolithic
burial tomb, south of Finstown on Main-land. Passage 18ft long
leads to central chamber with adjoining smaller cells.
Stone Age rock tomb cut
into slab of sandstone, on Hoy. Passage leads to two chambers.
Legend says it is home to malevolent dwarf of Norse sagas.
Round tower of 12th-century
Church of St Magnus soars above roofless nave. Islanders prayed
here well into 19th century.
Dry-stone tower, 2000
years old, stands on Mainland headland overlooking Rousay. It
had underground well-chamber, still visible today, and upper gallery
and floor. Later settlers built houses around tower.
Tiny island with huge
megalithic tomb. Main chamber over 75ft long is adjoined by 14
smaller cells. No signs of life on island since tomb was built.
In 1943 Italian prisoners-of-war
built unique chapel inside two Nissen huts on Lamb Hoim using
scrap metal, driftwood and con-crete. Interior has medieval-style
wall paintings and altarpiece. Facade in traditional Italian style
even has belfry.
Busy harbour on Mainland
is capital of Orkneys. St Magnus's Cathedral built in 1137 by
Norse leader Rognvald, in memory of his murdered uncle, Magnus.
Nearby is 17th-century Earl's Palace, built for 2nd Earl of Orkney.
Tankerness House is a 16th-century merchant's home, now a local
museum. Public library, founded 1683. is Scotland's oldest.
Whalebone mallets and
spatula have been unearthed on site of two well-built stone structures
on Papa Westray. About 5500 years old, they are considered to
be oldest standing dwellings in north-western Europe.
Remains of three stone
circles dominate Mainland horizon between Loch of Harray and Loch
of Stenness. Encircling ditch still visible at Ring of Bookan.
Ring of Brogar has 36 tall thin stones forming a circle 21/2 acres
Massive Mainland tomb,
115ft in diameter, with vaulted stone chamber and adjoining smaller
cells, built about 2500 BC. Later, Viking raiders scratched messages
into walls; one message alludes to finding treasure.
Guarding entrance to
Longhope Sound at Harkness, Hoy, one of a pair of towers built
1813 to protect British convoys in Longhope Sound against French
and American privateers.
Cliff-top Mainland RSPB
reserve supporting flocks of breeding cormorants, kittiwakes,
guillemots and razorbills. Reserve overlooks the spot where Lord
Kitchener's boat was sunk by German mines in 1916. Monument to
Kitchener within reserve.
Largest of Orkneys' stalled
cairns, on Rousay. Main chamber, 76ft long, is divided into 12
stalls with central passage. Benches held human remains, including
23 people buried about 2000 BC.
Castle on Westray was
mainly built by Gilbert Balfour in 16th century. Its 71 gun loops
in walls and 7-shape were intended to protect it from all sides.
Windswept moorland and
sea cliffs of this RSPB nature reserve make ideal habitat for
hundreds of birds, from kittiwakes to Arctic skuas. Cliff formations
include 450ft stack called Old Man of Hoy.
Most northerly of isles
of Orkneys is ringed by 6ft stone wall to protect crops from sheep.
Sheep survive on seaweed yet produce fine wool. Prehistoric fort
remains on southern coast.
Farm and Folk Museum
Two Mainland farmsteads
show evolution of Orkney farm buildings over centuries. Kirbuster
is the only surviving farmhouse with hearth in middle of floor.
Corrigal's 19th-century house has gable fireplace and wooden box
beds. Traditional breeds of sheep and poultry.
Collage museum at St
Margaret's Hope, South Ronaldsay; exhibits range from early crystal
set to modern transistor radio; wireless sets from 1930s and old
Ruin of 12th-century
circular Mainland church overlooks Scapa Flow's northern shore.
Probably built by returned Crusader; only one of its type in Scotland.
Apse remains -- rest used to build 18th-century Presbyterian structure.
Village set in curve
of sheltered bay on east coast of farming island of Westray. The
Norse leader Rognvald sailed here in 1136. Ruins of medieval church
has tombstones with finely carved inscriptions.
Iron Age earth house
was discovered on Mainland in 1926. Its roof collapsed under weight
of farm threshing machine and revealed a floor strewn with human
bones. Corbelled roof was supported on four stone slabs.
Green island fringed
by golden beaches. Human bones found in chambered tomb at Quoyness
suggest that people were living here over 4000 years ago.
Eighty square miles of
sea enclosed by Mainland's south coast and isles of Burray, South
Ronaldasy, Flotta and Hoy. This natural harbour was naval base
during both world wars.
Buried by sand for 4500
years, Stone Age Mainland village was discovered in 1850 when
storm tore sand away. Its roofless houses, linked by covered passages,
have central hearths, stone bed-frames and a stone dresser. Paved
courtyard where village council probably met.
Port town in sheltered
Mainland harbour. Single, narrow street whose seaward houses have
little jetties of their own. Fishermen offload catches of lobster
and crab. Museum illustrates maritime history and island wildlife.
Hudson's Bay Company recruiting site now Pier Arts Centre.
Room for many bodies
in this split-level Neolithic burial mound on southern coast of
Rousay. Upper entrance is at ground level, lower one found through
a 19ft sunken passage.