The islands of Orkney and Shetland are littered with archaeological remains. People first came here over 5000 years ago and many of their remains survive. New archaeological sites are discovered every year. Some, such as Skara Brae, were buried under sand, only to be exposed by a winter storm thousands of years later; Skara Brae presents a fascinating glimpse of stone age life from the beds with their little shelves and cubby holes, to the remains of jewellery and medicine. Research is ongoing here and elsewhere excavation by archaeologists continues to uncover new information. The islands are therefore of enormous interest to anyone who enjoys first-hand contact with ancient settlements and buildings, and the people who once lived here.
During our time on Shetland we will visit the uninhabited island of Mousa with its 2000 year old full size broch; the prehistoric and Norse settlement of Jarlshof; St Ninian’s Isle with its 6th century church and the ruined castle of Scalloway. We then travel to Orkney where we visit the Italian Chapel; the Tomb of the Eagles, which offers a unique ‘hands-on’ experience - an opportunity to handle 5000 year old artefacts excavated from an extensive cliff-top site; Maeshowe, the finest chambered tomb in Western Europe and Skara Brae & Skaill House. En route to Aberdeen, we will also stop for a photo opportunity at the dramatic ruins of Dunnottar Castle.
We will stay on both Orkney and Shetland, allowing more time to appreciate the special charm of these islands. We sail with Serco Northlink Ferries on their modern, purpose-built vessels, the Hrossey and the Hjaltland, from Aberdeen overnight to Lerwick. We then have two full days to tour Shetland, staying overnight at the historic Busta House Hotel in Brae. After rejoining the ship for an evening sailing to Kirkwall, we have a further two full days touring Orkney, before our short crossing back to the mainland.