Brough of Birsay, an old Viking settlement built on top of a Pictish settlement. It was occupied by the Norse people from about the 9th to 12th centuries. The island is only accessible at low tide.
This is what is left of the cathedral. When the site was excavated by archeologists, they felt that the site had been of importance to first the Picts and then the Norsemen. They found artifacts that had been imported from Scandinavia, from Ireland and from Anglo-Saxon England.
The only way to reach the brough is to follow the path at low tide. This made the island a perfect place for people as it was easy to guard and protect. After exploring the island, we walked back across and drove off past the ruins of a 16th century palace. Then on a neolithic site: Skara Brae.
This neolithic settlement was occupied from around 3200 BCE to 2200 BCE by stone age people. It was discovered after a major storm in 1850. The dwellings are connected by covered passageways. It is fascinating to see the stone bureaus, built for storage, the areas sectioned off as sleeping quarters, the many passageways... It is even believed they had a drainage system which may have supported some kind of indoor toilet facilities.
Again - that feeling of touching history. Unlike visiting the castles of Edinburgh and Stirling - here in the Orkneys we got glimpses into the lives of normal people, not the elite.
These posts only touch on some of what we saw. The Orkneys are quite amazing in what they have to offer those interested in history.
More photographs can be found here.