Knowes of Trotty
This sprawling Bronze Age site was the location of one of the finest archaeological discoveries ever made in Orkney.
There are some fantastic ancient sites to visit right across these islands. Many are easy to find and on every visitor's itinerary - including Skara Brae, the Ring of Brodgar and Maeshowe - but others require a bit more legwork to find. That doesn't make them any less special though.
The Knowes of Trotty are found tucked away in the heart of the parish of Harray, in Orkney's West Mainland. What might look like a patch of land with small hillocks on it is actually one of the largest Bronze Age cemeteries in the UK, featuring up to 16 burial mounds, or barrows.
First excavated in the 1850s, the site is thought to be more than 4000-years-old. The barrows are stone burial cists covered with a stone cairn and earth, some marked with standing stones. Nowadays, partly due to erosion, the barrows are relatively simple bumps on the landscape, but thousands of years ago they would have been visible from all around.
Four beautiful gold 'sun' discs were found in the largest barrow at the Knowes of Trotty during that first period of excavation, made from paper-thin sheets of gold and decorated in a similar style to finds in southern England. The discs are seen as one of the most incredible archaeological finds in Orkney history and are on display in the National Museum of Scotland.
The Knowes of Trotty might not make the 'must see' list of many visitors, but it's another special part of Orkney's landscape and rich history that's well worth a walk.