Roman and Mediaeval History, Illlustrated Travel Journals, Mediaeval Literature, Geology


15.6.13
  Neolithic Remains, Picts and Vikings

Orkney was a veritable centre of Neolithic buildings, from the intriguing stone settings to a settlement like Skara Brae - a village older than the pyramids which has become one of the main tourist attractions.

Skara Brae, a Neolithic settlement on Mainland Orkney

Stone circles are very photogenic. The Ring of Brodgar may be less impressive than Stonehenge, but it's a lot more atmospheric. Especially with those dramatic clouds - though it never rained, fortunately. There's another, smaller stone setting, the one of Stenness, which I also managed to sneak in.

Ring of Brodgar, a detail shot

An then there's Maes Howe, the large cairn we are not sure what it really was; temple, burial place, meeting room....? You can only get inside on a guided tour and photographing is officially not allowed. *wink*

Maes Howe, also on the mainland

Definitely used for burial were the chambered cairns. Several fine examples can be found on the island of Rousay. Here's the largest one. I also visited a much smaller one you need a torch and a ladder to get into.

Chambered cairn on Rousay

Cairns can be found elsewhere in the Highlands, too, like the Clava Cairns near Inverness which come complete with standing stones and all. They're about 2.5 miles walk from the battlefield of Culloden.

Clava Cairns

But Neolithic remains are not the only fun thing to be found on Orkney. There are some nice Pictish brochs, too. Well, remains of brochs; they used to be much higher. Here's the Broch of Gurness.

Broch of Gurness, Mainland Orkney

They often come attached with the remains of settlements, though the latter was much smaller around the Broch of Midhowe than in case of Gurness. A lot of those places are off the roads and bus stops so I had some walking to do. :-)

Broch of Midhowe, Rousay

I was lucky again with the tide and could put a visit to the Viking settlement on Birsay into my schedule. Orkney had been in Norse possession for centuries and they left their traces behind. I've also taken a few pics of some smaller places like the round church in Orphir.

The Viking settlement on Birsay

In one case I was out of luck: since the tourist office in Inverness gave me the wrong opening times for the Pictish museum in Rosemarkie, I missed that one. Well, the booty was large enough for two weeks.

 
Comments:
Very nice Ring of Brodgar picture. It brings all sorts of story possibilities to mind. :)
 
Fabulous pix once again.
 
I do agree with Constance, Gabriele! Great picture! You are very gifted photographer!
 
Thank you, Constance, Anerje and Kasia.
 
Great photos of some amazing places. The brochs must have been astonishing when standing to full height, mustn't they?
 
Looks as if you had a great time on your first visit.

The 'Great Ship of Death' on Rousay never ceases to amaze me.
 
Absolutely, Carla. And better visible form the shore, too. Midhowe and Gurness are technically in sight of each other.
 
Chiara, I had a great time indeed. Rousay is lovely. There's this guy in a blue van who gives tours to tourists and albeit I was alone (he usually wants at least two) he drove me to some of the fun places because he likes the Germans. Though getting to the cave and Midhowe required a walk down a pretty steep slope - and up again which was a bit less fun. ;-)
 
Rosemarkie is worth a visit if you're passing but it's very small, to miss it is not heart-breaking. Next time we must get some symbol stones and hill-forts on your itinerary! Or are they in one of the posts I've not read yet... ? Excellent photos as ever!
 
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Miscellaneous musings of an aspiring Historical Fiction author. Illustrated essays on Roman, Dark Age and Mediaeval history, Mediaeval literature, and Geology. Some poetry translations and writing stuff. And lots of photos of old castles, cathedrals, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes from Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and the Baltic States.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.

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Location: Germany

I'm a writer of Historical Fiction living in Germany. I got a MA in Literature, Scandinavian Studies, Linguistics and History, I'm interested in Archaeology and everything Roman and Mediaeval, an avid reader, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, and photographer.


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