The islands of Orkney have been populated for thousands of years, and West Mainland contains Neolithic relics which are unsurpassed in Europe, dating back 5,500 years. The Heart of Neolithic Orkney encompasses the Ring of Brodgar, the Stones of Stenness, the Maeshowe tomb and Skara Brae, along with other local excavated and unexcavated sites.
Maeshowe was also built using extraordinary Stone Age construction skills, and is the grandest chambered tomb on Orkney. Viking raiders left their mark on Maeshowe in the 12th century, and you can still see their remarkable runic graffiti.
After the Neolithic time in Orkney, settlers began to arrive from Scandinavia from the eighth century onwards and played a big part in Orkney for hundreds of years, leaving behind a Norse culture and language which is still visible today. Orkney was passed on to Scotland as part of a marriage dowry in 1468 and has been part of the country ever since.
More recently, in the last 100 years, Orkney has played a major role in both World Wars with Scapa Flow acting as a temporary naval base.
The isles have now become a leader in developing renewable energy such as wind, tidal and wave technologies, and the isles are recognised as having some of the best resources in Europe.