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Step Back 5000 Years

Hi friends! I hope this day finds you warm and happy!

Everyone knows that I’m a sun-lover but I also like places that are hidden gems. One such place is the Orkney Islands just off the northern coast of Scotland. This archipelago of seventy islands is just 16 km (10 miles) from the northern coast but when you step foot on the island it seems like you are in a different age!

Ring of Brodgar, Orkney Islands

Stone Age Menhirs

The principal island is known, confusingly, as ‘Mainland’ and its capital is Kirkwall. Mainland holds a unique landscape that has seen continuous habitation for more than 8,500 years. There is not a field, boulder or stretch of beach that has not been shaped by humans in some way. I’ll bet the women did all of the hard work! LoL!

While there are fabulous sites all over Mainland, including World War I wrecks that can be dived at Scapa Flow, what interests me most are the Stone Age ruins and artefacts from prehistory that seem to lie everywhere on this mysterious island.

The most famous Stone Age monument on the island is the small village of Skara Brae which dates from more than 5,000 years ago. A big storm struck the island 140 years ago that uncovered a portion of this unique site which has since been fully excavated. Skara Brae offers a strangely familiar and comfortable picture of Stone Age domestic life. Several cosy homes are huddled together to form a village for about 50-75 people. Their houses had modern comforts including flushing toilets, storage tanks for fresh fish and seafood (that still hold water!), and even large cabinets that held their prized possessions.

5,000 year old Skara Brae

There were covered pathways that connected the different dwellings and all were located conveniently close to the beach where the locals undoubtedly moored their boats.

Perhaps the most exciting site is the recently discovered temple complex at the Ness of Brodgar. First uncovered in the backyard of a small house in 2014, the large archaeological site is still being actively excavated each summer season. So far, more than fourteen main structures have been unearthed and more temples and beautiful artefacts are uncovered each digging season. On a visit to Orkney, you are liable to be present when a great new discovery is unearthed!

Caledonian MacBrayne Ferry travelling from Iona to Mull

Car ferry on its way to Mainland

Orkney is not the easiest place to reach but it is well worth the effort. The nearest large airport is Glasgow International but there are smaller airfields at Inverness and Wick. Typically, the prices of flights become more expensive as the airports grow smaller. Then, a rental car is your best bet to travel from the airport to Scrabster where a car ferry regularly sails the short trip to Kirkwall. The journey only takes about thirty minutes and it is convenient to drive on and off.

I prefer to drive from Glasgow because of the stunning views of the highlands as the route winds through the Great Glen. If you have time, you can stop in Oban or Inverness overnight to experience true Scottish hospitality and maybe sample their award-winning whiskeys.

There are comfortable hotels in Kirkwall but an increasingly popular option is a self-catering private home rental. The most traditional accommodation is the B&B (Bed and Breakfast) but there are many options that are all reasonably priced and very comfortable. Restaurants cater to all tastes and budgets but the sustainable fish and seafood caught in the region are a particularly fresh and tasty treat.

ORKNEY -Whiskey

Award winning Scottish whiskey

Despite their remoteness, connectivity is good for both mobile phones and the internet.

Additionally, the Orkney Islands were voted the happiest and nicest place to live in the entire United Kingdom in 2018. I’m betting that it was even comfortable during the remote past. There must have been whiskey on the island in the ancient past because they didn’t call it ‘The Stone Age’ for nothing! LoL!

If you visit the Orkneys, you will learn why it is so special. It is one of the coolest and most relaxed places on the earth!

 

Love,

 

Isabella

 

Isabella’s Checklist

What to see: Skara Brae, Ness of Brodgar,  (https://www.orkney.com/)

Where to stay:  Bed and Breakfast, The Albert Hotel (https://www.airbnb.com/ , https://www.alberthotel.co.uk/)

Where to party: Torvhaug, Highland Park Whiskey Distillery (https://www.kirkwallbid.co.uk/business/torvhaug , https://www.highlandparkwhisky.com/en/distillery)

Where to eat: The Shore, Helgi’s (https://www.theshore.co.uk/ , http://www.helgis.co.uk/)

What to buy: Whiskey, Jewellery, and Orkney-made crafts

Revel in the Orkney Islands oasis!
Isabella’s Checklist

What to see: Skara Brae, Ness of Brodgar,  (https://www.orkney.com/)

Where to stay:  Bed and Breakfast, The Albert Hotel (https://www.airbnb.com/ , https://www.alberthotel.co.uk/)

Where to party: Torvhaug, Highland Park Whiskey Distillery (https://www.kirkwallbid.co.uk/business/torvhaug , https://www.highlandparkwhisky.com/en/distillery)

Where to eat: The Shore, Helgi’s (https://www.theshore.co.uk/ , http://www.helgis.co.uk/)

What to buy: Whiskey, Jewellery, and Orkney-made crafts

Revel in the Orkney Islands oasis!

2 Comments to “Step Back 5000 Years”

    1. Thank you so much for the encouragement! We want to create a blog that will be interesting and also useful to our readers. Thus, comments like yours are very important to us. Let us know if you have any additional questions we might answer.
      Warm regards,
      Isabella and Bart

      Bart Bybee at 11:59 am

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