Orkney Hike

Two days ago I was on one of the islands comprising the archipelago of Orkney. Key reason was to witness an extensive archaeological site dating to the Neolithic period of around 3000BC. This site visit was reported in this blog post.

By way of a quick rehearsal:

  • Orkney comprises an archipelago situated about ten miles north of the district of Caithness in northern Scotland. In all, Orkney comprises about seventy islands of which twenty are inhabited.
  • The islands have been inhabited for about 8500 years starting with the Mesolithic, the Neolithic and then the Picts. In 1472 the islands were ceded to Scotland from Norway, hence there is a lingering Scandinavian heritage.
  • The climate is relatively mild. With soil extremely fertile most of the land is farmed and agriculture is the most important sector of th economy.
  • In terms of latitude, Orkney is about 60 degrees N or further north than Labrador in Canada.

On the day I transferred by taxi from the town of Stromness to the heart of the Neolithic district where I joined a tour of the Ness of Brodgar archaeological site which lasted about 75 minutes.The guide was exceptionally knowledgeable of the site and current thinking on interpretation.

Part of excavation site at Ness of Brodgar

Next, I determined to walk the 6.5 miles NW to the site of the Neolithic village of Skara Brae which is positioned close to the coast. The occupation period of Skara Brae did, for a few hundred years, overlap with the activties at Ness of Brodgar and associated standing stones. The line of the roads linking the two sites runs more or less in a straight line and hence it is quite possible the route may have developed from an ancient trackway dating back thousands of years.

The decision to walk enabled me to closely connect with the flora, landscape, farm animals and various other features as illustrated below.

 Ring of Brodgar stone circle with images of wild flowers as taken from roadside

Orkney farming landscape






Orkney landscape with hills, water and wild flowers

Orkney farming landscape

Suckling calf

Monster mushroom

Field of oats

Traditional British Phone Box re-purposed to sell local craft products 

Patch of wild flowers the most prominent of which seems to be Bog Cotton, a sedge. 

Thistles-Scotland's national emblem

Patch of daisies

 Heather in bloom

Part of Skara Brae Neolithic Village (library pic)

    Overall, a very satisfying day.


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