Orkney's rich history and heritage can be seen right across the islands, but Rousay is perhaps the best place to experience it condensed into a just a mile or two of coastline.
One of our inner isles, Rousay sits a short ferry ride away from Tingwall in Orkney's north-west mainland. Turn left once you arrive and you'll soon be experiencing thousands of years of Orcadian history, with more than a hundred cairns, tombs and buildings to be discovered.
The broch at Midhowe is a fantastic site. As with many Iron Age structures of its kind, it's thought it was built with defence in mind. It's surrounded by the sea to its rear and geos to its sides, with a ditch and stone barrier blocking easy access from the front. It was obviously built in a busy and important area of Orkney 2000-years ago; you can find the remains of around nine similar sites in the vicinity, including the impressive Broch of Gurness across Eynhallow Sound on the mainland.
As with many ancient locations in Orkney, the quality of build and workmanship is quite incredible. The broch still stands in good condition, and you can see fixtures and fittings installed during construction, including a water tank, hearth and room partitions made out of stone. The main tower still stands at five metres high, but it's thought that's around half of what it would have been in its prime.
At the front of the broch you'll find smaller buildings too, perhaps used as homes at one point, but they could also have been used as workshops. Tools fashioned from stone and bone have been found at the site, and moulds that indicate bronze-working too.
Midhowe is a real joy to visit, with spectacular views across to the Orkney mainland, the island of Eynhallow and the channel leading out to the ocean beyond. But we'd never recommend going to Rousay just for the broch - you have to make sure you spare a day, because there is so much to see and do.