Walking through the Past - Orkneys


About the Orkneys

The Orkneys are a set of islands off the north coast of Scotland. They are sparsely populated and much of the land is open moor. The larger islands are cut by sea lochs. The highest point on the mainland of Orkney is Ward Hill at 268m.

The islands have a wealth of Neolithic sites. There are many stone circles and vast numbers of chambered cairns. The stalled cairn is a local variation, with upright slabs separating rooms along the corridor. There are even some stone-built Neolithic villages.
The Bronze Age is represented by some round cairns, often burnt mounds. Several round huts have been excavated. On the shorelines lie hundreds of brochs. These Iron Age towers are in various states of repair but many stand tall.
The Picts, Celts and Vikings have left their marks, both with new construction and raiding of earlier burial places. Their settlements of each can be found, often succeeding each other on the same site. Throughout this time the Christian church struggled through. There are several early places of worship. The islands have retained a close link with Scandinavia, only returning to Scottish rule in comparatively recent history. There is still a Norwegian embassy.