I can’t believe that it’s only 2 weeks since I was leaving the Orkneys having spent another fascinating week on the Island.

I got back to a very busy couple of weeks so it is only now that I am getting time to reflect on a what a good week it was. Having been on the mainland twice before I was getting to know my way around.

I was meeting the group I would be joining on the Saturday  evening for dinner and having got on the mainland mid morning I had lots of time to play with. I headed to Stromness that is a curious and attractive town with blue plaques on almost every other building and references to the maritime great and good going back to over hundreds of years. I had a relaxed day, but before going to Pentland House I wanted to go to both the Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar, it was the day before the Summer Solstice, just hours before the druids would be arriving so it was appropriate too.

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The Orkneys are a series of islands with a history that can be traced back over 5000 years, if you look back to my visit last year documented on this blog you will find more on this. What I primarily want to show you this year is my visit to Rousey and an impromptu visit to the Cairns Dig that we were fortunate to visit, thanks to one of our group knowing someone on the project. I had not given much thought to the archaeological process, in that it is in itself a destructive process, however everything is recorded in detail to answer and unlock the stories the remains carry.

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We visited Westray, Hoy and many sites of archaeological importance and other sites that are vitally important sea bird habitats, it was good to see the large numbers of Guillemot and Kittiwake chicks, and it would appear is that there is at least an increase in the number of sand eels that are a staple part of the diet of many auks.

Rousay is a small island  20 minutes by ferry from the mainland with a circular road around it, many of the cairns are only a short walk from the road, however some of the most breathtaking sites are a good walk from the road. Midhowe Broch and Midhowe Cairn are staggering, both are impressive structures. Midhowe Cairn one of the largest Stalled Cairns ever found with 24 stalls in a total of 12 chambers, it is now completely enclosed in large barn like building to preserve it. I did not expect to see the extent of the preservation that has taken place with large buildings and concrete structures preserving many of these cairns.

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I am still awestruck when standing in many of these places and trying to comprehend that 5000 years ago someone obviously stood in exactly the same place as I am standing.

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