Thousands of historical sites, hundreds of miles of coastline and huge skies as far as the eye can see. Finding your own space isn’t a problem in Orkney.
If you’re visiting the islands and want to get off the beaten track, here are some of our favourite archaeological attractions that are well worth seeking out.
Orkney is famous for its stone circles, but this monolith is one of the largest and most imposing across the islands. Found in Eday, the Stone of Setter stands more than four metres tall and has been shaped by thousands of years of wild weather.
Rousay is an island full of history, and the Iron Age Midhowe Broch is one of its finest sites. Surrounded by the sea, you can get a real sense of how important this defensive building was thousands of years ago. Take time to soak up the scenery too, with views across Eynhallow Sound back towards the Orkney mainland.
An island-hopping adventure will lead you to this fabulous site, home of the oldest standing stone buildings in north-west Europe. The Knap of Howar in Papa Westray is an ancient farmstead that was built around 3800BC, with its inhabitants living off the land in this beautiful corner of Orkney. The homes are similar to those found at Skara Brae, with hearths, fire pits, storage space and stone benches.
This sprawling Bronze Age site was the location of one of the finest archaeological discoveries ever made in Orkney. Nowadays they look like small hillocks, but the Knowes of Trotty in the West Mainland is actually one of the largest Bronze Age cemeteries in the UK. It’s a special part of Orkney's landscape with a rich history that's well worth a walk.
Shapinsay is a short ferry hop away and is a lovely, peaceful island to explore. The Iron Age Burroughston broch is a bit of a hidden gem, tucked away above the shoreline on the island’s north eastern coast. There’s a good chance you’ll have this ancient site all to yourself.
Find these spaces
1 - Stone of Setter, Eday; 2 - Midhowe Broch, Rousay; 3 - Knap of Howar, Papa Westray; 4 - Knowes of Trotty, West Mainland; 5 - Burroughston Broch, Shapinsay