Orkney’s newest visitor centre is up and running ahead of the summer season.
Visitors to the incredible Maeshowe Neolithic chambered tomb can now buy their tour tickets and browse a well-stocked gift shop at the new base in Stenness, formerly used as the West Mainland Day Care Centre.
They’ll then be transported by shuttle bus to Maeshowe itself, ahead of their guided tours.
The former visitor centre at Tormiston Mill was closed last September following concerns from site operators Historic Environment Scotland about access to the cairn itself. The new set-up has been put in place after a real community effort involving Orkney Islands Council, HES and the wider Stenness community.
Built 5,000 years ago, Maeshowe is part of Orkney’s UNESCO World Heritage Site and is seen as one of the finest surviving Neolithic structures in north-west Europe. It has long been an important stop on the Orkney tourist trail and it was vitally important to be able to offer full access ahead of the main summer season.
The refurbished centre in the heart of the Stenness village now boasts improved visitor and staff facilities, wheelchair access and extra parking. Increased interpretation is also available, and the gift shop features plenty of locally made products too.
Virtual reality headsets will also be introduced to give visitors a full introduction to Maeshowe before seeing the stunning site for themselves.
Access to Maeshowe will continue to be by guided tour only, and as with the previous visitor centre, coaches will not be permitted without prior arrangement. Visitors are advised to purchase or reserve tickets online in advance (including Historic Scotland Members and Explorer/Orkney Pass holders) and to arrive 15 minutes before their tour time to pick up tickets. Tickets can also be bought at the new visitor centre.
The Digital Media Orkney project is being part financed by the Scottish Government and the European Community Orkney LEADER 2014–2020 Programme.