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Home > Scotland  > Orkneys > Attractions > Ancient Sites
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Orkney Stone Circles and other Ancient Sites

Covering Stone circles, chambered cairns, brochs, deserted villages, and more

Overview
Orkney is a paradise of the past. There are probably more ancient sites in Orkney than anywhere else in the UK, many are free entry, and most are uncrowded. Several of the most famous sites are clustered together near Loch Harray and form the Heart of Orkney World Heritage Site.



Stenness 
Barnhouse Neolithic Settlement

Barnhouse Neolithic Settlement


A Neolithic village located on the shores of Loch Harray beside the Stones of Stenness circle and just a short distance from the Ring of Brogar.
B9055, Stenness, Orkney, Highlands and Islands, Scotland

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Tratland 
Blackhammer Chambered Tomb

Blackhammer Chambered Tomb


A Neolithic chambered cairn dating to approximately 2500 BCE. Entry to the interior reveals an elongated corbeled chamber with upright partitions. The interior is unusually well lit due to plexiglass skylights inserted in the roof.
Tratland, Rousay, Orkney, Highlands and Islands, Scotland

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Aikerness 

Broch of Gurness


One of the finest brochs in Scotland, Gurness stands on the shore looking across to Rousay. The very extensive remains include striking earth ramparts and the remains of several Iron Age buildings.
Aikerness, Mainland, Orkney, Highlands and Islands, Scotland

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Brough Head 

Brough of Birsay


Birsay is a tidal island joined to the mainland by a causeway. On the island are extensive remains of both Pictish and Norse settlements, including a 12th century Norse cathedral. A small museum displays artefacts found during excavations. The location is superb, and the remains of buildings quite impressive..
Brough Head, Mainland, Orkney, Highlands and Islands, Scotland

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Photos of Brough of Birsay

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Finstown 
Cuween Hill Chambered Cairn

Cuween Hill Chambered Cairn


Cuween is a chambered cairn, built in the Neolithic period, about 5,000 years ago. It is composed of a central chamber with 4 cells, reached by a low passage. When the chamber was excavated it was found to contain the remains of humans, dogs, and oxen.
Finstown, Mainland, Orkney, Highlands and Islands, Scotland

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Quoyness 
Dwarfie Stane

Dwarfie Stane


The Dwarfie Stane is a fascinating 5000 year old block of red sandstone which has been cut to create a burial chamber. The stane lies in a valley near the northern tip of Hoy, between Rackwick and Quoyness. The stane is possibly the only British example of a rock-cut tomb.
Hoy, Quoyness, Orkney, Highlands and Islands, Scotland

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Kirkwall 
Grain Earth-House

Grain Earth-House


Grain Earth House is not a house, but a long underground passage leading to a large chamber. It was probably used as a cold storage area, and possibly as a refuge in times of trouble.
Kirkwall, Mainland, Orkney, Highlands and Islands, Scotland

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Holm of Papa Westray Chambered Cairn

Holm of Papa Westray Chambered Cairn


Massive tomb. Long narrow chamber with 14 cells and wall engravings.
Holm of Papa Westray, Orkney, Highlands and Islands, Scotland

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Knap of Howar

Knap of Howar


Two Neolithic standing stone houses with stone cupboards and stalls.
Papa Westray, Orkney, Highlands and Islands, Scotland

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Frotoft 
Knowe Of Yarso Chambered Cairn

Knowe Of Yarso Chambered Cairn


Knowe of Yarso is a Neolithic chambered cairn on the south coast of Rousay island, facing across the straits to the Broch of Gurness on Orkney Mainland. The oval cairn is made up of concentric walls around a central chamber divided into three separate compartments.
Rousay, Frotoft, Orkney, Highlands and Islands, Scotland

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Pierowall 

Links of Noltland


The Links of Noltland is an an area of sand dunes at the north end of Westray, within which are a rich array of prehistoric sites. The sand has helped to preserve the archaeological remains, which are only now being carefully excavated and catalogued.
Westray, Pierowall, Orkney, Highlands and Islands, Scotland

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Finstown 

Maes Howe Chambered Cairn


The finest megalithic tomb in the British Isles, consisting of a large Neolithic mound, 26ft high, 115ft in diameter, encircled by a ditch, covering a stone-built 39 ft passage leading to large burial chamber with 2 cells. The tomb contains the richest collection of Viking runes in the UK.
Finstown, Mainland, Orkney, Highlands and Islands, Scotland

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Westness 
Midhowe Broch

Midhowe Broch


One of the finest Iron Age brochs in Scotland, located in a superb coastal location directly beside the chambered cairn of Midhowe. The central building measures 30 feet in diameter, with walls still standing to a height of 14 feet. This is easily one of the most impressive sites in the Orkney islands, and well worth the journey to Rousay. A signposted path leads from the broch to Midhowe Chambered Cairn and past numerous other historic buildings along the shore.
Westness, Rousay, Orkney, Highlands and Islands, Scotland

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Heritage Highlight: One of the best preserved broch settlements in Scotland
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Midhowe Chambered Cairn

Midhowe Chambered Cairn


A huge Neolithic chambered tomb in an oval mound with 25 stalls. Midhowe is protected by a modern building, which has walkways over the tomb, proviing excellent views down into the chambers.
Rousay, Orkney, Highlands and Islands, Scotland

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Tankerness 
Mine Howe

Mine Howe


A mysterious underground chamber near Tankerness, Orkney, accessed by a steep flight of 29 steps. Mine Howe was built around 200 BC - 500 AD, but its use is uncertain.
Tankerness, Mainland, Orkney, Highlands and Islands, Scotland

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Quoyness Chambered Cairn

Quoyness Chambered Cairn


Megalithic tomb with retaining walls, passage, main chamber and cells. Neolithic.
Sandsay, Orkney, Highlands and Islands, Scotland

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Finstown 
Rennibister Earth-House

Rennibister Earth-House


This curious Iron Age underground passage and chamber stands in a farmyard near Finstown. Though probably not intended as a burial chamber, the remains of 18 human skeletons were discovered in the chamber when excavated.
Finstown, Mainland, Orkney, Highlands and Islands, Scotland

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Stenness 

Ring of Brodgar


One of the most beautifully situated prehistoric monuments in Britain, the stone circle of Brodgar stands on a low rise beside Loch Harray on Orkney Mainland. The Ring daes to about 2500 BC. There are 27 stones still standing, though it is estimated that there were originally up to 60 stones. The circle is set within a high earthen bank which gives across the loch to the circular burial mound of Maes Howe. A short distance away are the Stones of Stenness, and recent excavations have revealed a huge ceremonial complex of buildings near the circle.
Stenness, Mainland, Orkney, Highlands and Islands, Scotland

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Photos of Ring of Brodgar

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Skaill 

Skara Brae Prehistoric Village


Skara Brae is the best preserved group of Stone Age (main periods of settlement between 3100-2500BC) houses in western Europe. Long covered by sand, they were uncovered by a storm in 1850. The stone houses, linked by covered passageways, contain stone furniture. There is a modern museum explaining the history of the site and showing whjat life was like for the inhabitants 5,000 years ago.
Skaill, Mainland, Orkney, Highlands and Islands, Scotland

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Photos of Skara Brae Prehistoric Village

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Stones of Stenness Circle and Henge


The dramatic remains of a stone circle surrounded by remains of a circular earthwork. There are several extremely tall and slender stones, with several small and squat stones. Stenness is sited in a beautiful loch-side location, a short walk from the Ring of Brodgar.
Mainland, Orkney, Highlands and Islands, Scotland

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Taversoe Tuick Chambered Cairn

Taversoe Tuick Chambered Cairn


A very unusual two-storey Neolithic chambered mound with two burial chambers, one on top of the other. This type of tomb has been found in only one other location in the Orkneys. There is a smaller, third chamber, outside the lower chamber. Taversoe Tuick was built about 5000 years ago, and only rediscovered in 1898 twhen the laird was having a summer seat built for his wife.

Rousay, Orkney, Highlands and Islands, Scotland

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Burwick 

Tomb of the Eagles


Two attractions in one; the Tomb is a chambered cairn dating to approximately 3000 BCE. When excavated it was found to contain the bones of over 340 people, and the remains of sea eagles, pottery, bead, and stone tools. These artefacts can be viewed - and handled - in the modern visitor centre. The Bronze Age Burnt Mound (also known as Liddle Burnt Mound) consists of a burnt stone and refuse mound with an associated dwelling. The dwelling, which had a form of running water, may have been used as a kind of ceremonial sweat lodge. The Tomb of the Eagles is also known as Isbister Chambered Cairn.
Burwick, South Ronaldsay, Orkney, Highlands and Islands, Scotland

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Stromness 

Unstan Chambered Cairn


A Neolithic mound in a lochside setting, the mound at Unstan covers a communal stone burial chamber divided into 5 compartments. Pottery was found in the chamber, and the design of the pottery was so unique that it gave its name 'Unstan ware' to similar finds elsewhere.
Stromness, Mainland, Orkney, Highlands and Islands, Scotland

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Kirkwall 
Wideford Hill Chambered Cairn

Wideford Hill Chambered Cairn


On a sloping hill between Kirkwall and Finstown stands the impressive remains of a Neoloithic chambered cairn, with a central burial chamber surrounded by three concentric stone walls.
Kirkwall, Mainland, Orkney, Highlands and Islands, Scotland

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Yetnasteen 
Yetnasteen Standing Stone

Yetnasteen Standing Stone


A solitary standing stone measuring over 7 feet in height. Unusually, the stone stands at the bottom of a hill, rather than in an exposed, elevated position where it might more easily be seen. Legend tells that on New Years Day the stone walks down to the nearby loch to drink.

Yetnasteen, Orkney, Highlands and Islands, Scotland

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