Our tour guide for day turned out to be excellent - an English fellow who had lived for a number of years in Orkney. His love and passion for the region and its history was clearly evident and the way he guided the tour suited us very well indeed.
Our first stop was to see the Standing Stones of Stenness - considered by most to be the oldest Neolithic henge site in the British Isles with an estimated build date of around 3100BC. Only four of the stones remain, but they are impressive at a maximum height of 6 metres. About 1.2 km away was our next stop to see the Ring of Brodgar - the third largest henge in the British Isles. The stones in this henge ranged between 2.1metres to 4.7 metres tall so they couldn't match the Standing Stones of Stenness for size, but 27 of the original stones in an impressive 103.6 metre diameter circle remain. These stones are also a bit younger than their taller neighbours - being placed between 2500BC to 2000BC. We spent more time at the Ring of Brodgar because of the scope of the site. It was truly awesome and will be a lasting memory.
The main attraction for the day was the remains of the prehistoric village of Skara Brae. The site of eight Neolithic stone houses was incredibly well preserved, and we were able to see/understand the village lifestyle of people dating back as far as 3180BC. Truly impressive. And as they liked to tell us tourists at Skara Brae . . . "older than the Great Pyramids". To top it off, the setting on the Bay of Skaill was beautiful.
Our final stop on the organized tour at Skaill House was a bit of a let down after the impressive pair of Skara Brae and the Ring of Brodgar, but we thankful we weren't at this house too long - even though it was considered to be the finest mansion in Orkney.
After the formal tour ended we went back to the ship for a quick pit stop and the took a shuttle bus into the town of Kirkwall. We had been encouraged by quite a few people to try Orkney's "world famous and award winning ice cream" and it was indeed very good. So, too, was the shopping in Kirkwall. The town had quite a few artisan shops selling some very attractive things reflecting the rich history of this northern archipelago. We both ended up finding some nice things to buys. We also visited St Magnus Cathedral, a massive Romanesque style building that dominates Kirkwall landscape. Construction on the church started in 1137 and continued over the following 300 years. It was a good way to end our day of touring and was close to where we'd pick up the shuttle to make it back to Azamara Journey.
It was a fabulous day and with the exception of Skaill House we thought that the places we visited were outstanding and very memorable.
WHITEonline is the digital home of Gary & Linda White. We’ve been married since 1980 and live just outside Toronto in Ontario, Canada. Linda was born and raised in Toronto while Gary was born in London, England and moved to Canada at the age of 11. We enjoy travelling and taking photos while we travel. WHITEonline provides the opportunity to share some of our photos & experiences.