Orkney & Shetland

Brodgar, near Stenness
Brodgar, near Stenness
Earls Palace, Kirkwall
Earls Palace, Kirkwall
Broch of Mousa
Broch of Mousa
Scatness, Shetland - ancient settlement built and rebuilt over 1000s of years with remains from every period of the island’s long history
Scatness, Shetland - ancient settlement built and rebuilt over 1000s of years with remains from every period of the island’s long history
One of the houses at Skara Brae, amazingly well-preserved Neolithic village - with a ‘dresser’
One of the houses at Skara Brae, amazingly well-preserved Neolithic village - with a ‘dresser’
Shetland ponies
Shetland ponies
Important excavations at the Ness of Brodgar, Orkney, winner of the Andante Archaeological Award 2012
Important excavations at the Ness of Brodgar, Orkney, winner of the Andante Archaeological Award 2012

The islands beyond the northernmost tip of Scotland glory in some of the most beautiful and rugged landscapes in the world. For more than five thousand years they have been home to farmers and fishermen, who left monuments so impressive that this has been called an archaeologists’ paradise.

During the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age, the people of Orkney and Shetland were among the first in Britain to begin building megalithic chamber tombs and later henge monuments. The islands are also blessed with an extraordinary natural beauty. Wild flowers bloom throughout the summer, covering the green cliffs with colour and the exquisite scent of heather.

  • Visit the most northerly and remote outposts of the British Isles, with an extraordinarily complex Neolithic culture and outstanding wildlife 
  • Explore the World Heritage sites of Skara Brae, Maes Howe and the Ring of Brodgar - uniquely rich and evocative ancient places
  • We wander through Orkney’s capital, Kirkwall, visiting both the Bishops Palace & St Magnus Cathedral 

Themes

  • Vikings
  • Prehistory
  • Historic Churches
  • Cultural Excursion

Practicalities

  • Special Access
  • All Inclusive

Itinerary 2017

Day 1

We meet in Kirkwall, Orkney.

Day 2

Today we explore Orkney’s capital, Kirkwall – the highlights include the Bishop’s Palace and St Magnus Cathedral. In the afternoon we visit Earl’s Palace.

Day 3

We drive to Maes Howe: a chambered tomb that has been a distinctive presence in the landscape for millennia. The rays of the midwinter sun shine down the passage to illuminate the central chamber. We continue to the Stones of Stenness and then the Ring of Brodgar.

We have special access to excavations at the Ness of Brodgar - where archaeologists are uncovering a Neolithic settlement in extraordinary detail.

Day 4

We travel to the Island of Rousay to explore Midhowe chambered tomb, sealed 4,500 years ago containing the remains of 25 people. On to the much later Iron Age defensive structure of Midhowe Broch which stands on the rocky foreshore of Rousay between two inlets. We end the day at the double chambered tomb of Taversoe Tuick.

Day 5

Our day begins at the Neolithic village at Skara Brae, amazingly well preserved beneath the sand, occupied for over 600 years. After lunch, we visit Gurness Broch, an Iron Age drystone tower with an extensive surrounding settlement.

Day 6

We visit the Tomb of the Eagles at Isbister, built before 3,000BC. We continue to the Burnt Mound at Liddle, once a communal cooking place. We end the day on a very different note at the Italian Chapel, built by prisoners of war in the 1940s.

Day 7

We arrive in Lerwick this morning. Our first stop is Clickhimin Broch, a stone wall fort dating to the Iron Age. This once occupied an island set in the Loch. We continue to Shetland Museum and then to Scalloway Castle.

Day 8

We visit Stanydale Temple, surrounded by prehistoric landscapes, and the Scord of Brouster with its chambered cairn and houses. We spend some time at the amazing site of Jarlshof: originally constructed by Neolithic farmers around 2,400BC. We view the oval Bronze Age houses, Iron Age fortifications, and the remains of a Viking long house. We continue to Scatness, an extensive settlement site.

Day 9

We take a ferry ride to Mousa Broch, the tallest of this unique Iron Age tower structure surviving in Scotland. We continue to South Voe Croft Museum, an engaging evocation of rural life in Shetland. We then explore St Ninian’s Isle where we see the Church. Excavation revealed a fabulous hoard of Pictish silver here.

Day 10

During our final full day, we explore Unst. We view Viking houses at Underhoull, and the replica Viking house and ship at Brookpoint. We also visit the Gannet Colony at Hermaness and the Castle at Muness.

Day 11

Enjoy some time for further exploring before we end our tour in Lerwick.

Itinerary 2018

Day 1

We meet in Kirkwall, Orkney.

Day 2

Today we explore Orkney’s capital, Kirkwall – the highlights include the Bishop’s Palace and St Magnus Cathedral. In the afternoon, we visit Earl’s Palace.

Day 3

We drive to Maes Howe: a zenith in European prehistoric architecture, this chambered tomb has been a distinctive presence in the landscape for millennia. The rays of the midwinter sun shine down the passage to illuminate the central chamber. On to the Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar.

We have special access to excavations at the Ness of Brodgar - where archaeologists are uncovering a Neolithic settlement in extraordinary detail.

Day 4

We travel to the Island of Rousay to explore Midhowe chambered tomb, sealed 4,500 years ago containing the remains of 25 people. On to the much later Iron Age defensive structure of Midhowe Broch which stands on the rocky foreshore of Rousay between two inlets and consists of a circular tower with a very thick exterior wall. End the day at the double chambered tomb of Taversoe Tuick.

Day 5

We begin the day at the Neolithic village of Skara Brae, amazingly well preserved beneath the sand, occupied for over 600 years. After lunch we visit Gurness Broch, an Iron Age drystone tower with an extensive surrounding settlement.

Day 6

We visit the Tomb of the Eagles at Isbister, a stalled cairn built before 3,000BC. Continue to the Burnt Mound at Liddle, a communal cooking place - a taste of domesticity in the Bronze Age! End the day on a very different note at the Italian Chapel, built by prisoners of war in the 1940’s. We board our ferry to Shetland this evening.

Day 7

We arrive in Lerwick this morning. Ferry ride to Mousa Broch, the tallest of this unique Iron Age tower structure surviving in Scotland. Continue to South Voe Croft Museum, an engaging evocation of rural life in Shetland. We then explore St Ninian’s Isle where we see the Church - a striking white shell sand spit links the islands. Excavation revealed a fabulous hoard of Pictish silver.

Day 8

We visit Stanydale Temple part of a surrounding prehistoric landscape and the Scord of Brouster with chambered cairn and houses. Continue to Shetland Museum and then we will see Clickhimin Broch.

Day 9

On to Scatness, an extensive settlement site and, if time, Sumburgh Head.

We spend some time at the amazing site of Jarlshof: originally constructed by Neolithic farmers around 2,400BC. We view the oval, almost cosy-looking, Bronze Age houses, Iron Age fortifications, Pictish symbols and the remains of a Viking long house. Continue to Scalloway Museum and then to Scalloway Castle.

Day 10

Our final full day, exploring Unst. We view Viking houses at Underhoull, and the replica Viking house and ship at Brookpoint. We spend the afternoon at Skaw, to take in the amazing panorama, and then visit the Castle at Muness.

Day 11

Time for further exploring before we end our tour in Lerwick.

What's Included

  1. Expert Guide Lecturer
  2. Tour Manager
  3. Local Travel - Private a/c coach
  4. Meals - All meals included with wine at dinner
  5. Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
  6. Field Notes
  7. Hotels

Hotel Info

5 nights in a 3 * family-run hotel based in Kirkwall, overlooking the harbour
4 nights nestled on the shore of Busta Voe, in a lovely old building with a large garden

Useful Information

For full information about Passport validity and Visa requirements as well as Health and Vaccination information please click here.

Book now

2018 Tour Details

Tue 3rd July - Fri 13th July

Available

£2,795

without flights

sgl supp: £465

OAS18B

Led By:

Sat 14th July - Tue 24th July

Call for Availability

£2,795

without flights

sgl supp: £465

OAS18A

Led By: Dr Val Turner

Share tour with friends

Have a question, or unsure if this tour is for you?

Contact us here