Orkney & Shetland
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. Wildflowers 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
- Historic Churches
- Cultural Excursion
- Special Access
- All Inclusive
We meet in Kirkwall, Orkney.
Today we explore Orkney’s capital, Kirkwall – the highlights include the Bishop’s Palace, St Magnus Cathedral and Earl’s Palace, which provides a sobering reminder of Orkney's turbulent past. In the afternoon we visit Tankerness Museum.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Time for further exploring before we end our tour in Lerwick.
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Tour Manager
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach
- Meals - All meals included with wine at dinner
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
- Field Notes
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
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