Orkney Tourist Guide

Orkney, a Neolithic remembrance

Orkney is an archipelago located at the northern tip of Scotland where the Atlantic Ocean and the North sea lie. It has approximately 70 islands with only seventeen of those are inhabited. Its population is not that dense, with only about 20,000 people living in the islands. Mainland, is what the largest island in Orkney called. The Mainland is where most people reside, especially in the towns of Kirkwall and Stromness.

A visit to the Orkney Islands will surely be filled with appreciation for culture and history. The islands of Orkney can boast of a rich tradition and culture, being inhabited for more than 5,000 years – dating back to the Neolithic age. Its earliest known settlement is the Knap of Howar – a farmstead with Neolithic characteristics located in an island called Papa Westray or Papay. The farmstead has been dated to have been in existence since 3500 BC.

The best preserved Neolithic settlement in Europe can be found in Orkney. The Heart of Neolithic Orkney is a group of monuments  including the oldest settlement in Orkney, Skara Brae, a village dated all the way back to 3100 BC. The other monuments still standing from the Neolithic age are the Standing Stones of Stenness, Maeshowe passage grave, and the Ring of Brodgar. The Heart of Neolithic Orkney is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The islands were also inhabited during the Iron Age, specifically by the Picts. It was also invaded and inhabited by the Romans, The Norsemen and the Scottish.

Many tourists visit Orkney to enjoy its sloping and highly fertile islands. Its beaches are sandy and peaceful with lots of nature and wildlife for enjoyment. The islands also provide delicious and fresh dishes and wonderful accommodations – a perfect getaway for those looking for some rest and leisure.

The climate in Orkney is very warm and temperate because of the warmth brought by the Gulf Stream. April, May and June are the driest months of the year in Orkney. Festivals are also present all throughout the year especially during the Midsummer. Many of the festivals include wine appreciation, dancing, and art festivals. Orkney’s history and tradition are also often celebrated during these numerous festivals. One of the famous and prestigious festivals in Orkney is the St. Magnus Festival held during the Midsummer which celebrates art. Performances in drama, jazz, classical music, and contemporary music are the main attractions.

There are also places in the Mainland which is worth visiting. Places usually frequented in the town of Kirkwall include the St. Magnus Cathedral which is famous from its Medieval grave markers and beautiful stained glass. The Orkney Museum is also located in Kirkwall which give a lovely display of Orkney’s archaeology. For drama and theatre lovers, they can visit the Orkney Arts theatre in Kirkwall.

Other notable places worthy of a visit is the Stromness Museum in the town of Stomness. The George Mackay Brown Memorial Garden, a memorial for one of Scotland’s greatest writers, is located in Stromness. The Orkney Fossil and Heritage Centre is located in Burray.