Orkney Archaeology Tours

Tour Guides

Bayview, Birsay, Orkney, KW17 2LR

    Orkney Archaeology Tours - for your perfect Orkney holiday. All-inclusive small group holidays & private tours led by archaeologists. Friendly, fun & informative tours with a maximum of 8 participants, based at a comfortable seafront hotel.

    We specialize in exclusive tours of Orkney, concentrating on the wonderful archaeology but also showing you as much as possible of our beautiful islands. We offer all-inclusive small group holidays and private tours with specialist archaeologist guides, staying at comfortable hotels serving good local food. There are no hidden extras on our tours – simply relax and unwind and let us take care of everything.

    The maximum group size for our holidays is just eight people with all tours conducted in our own comfortable executive touring vehicle. With such a small group we can visit sites off the beaten track and you benefit from the personal touch. This makes our ‘Orkney Adventure’ holidays the ideal way to see the best of Orkney with a small party of like-minded travellers.

    We use the Ayre Hotel in Kirkwall, Orkney’s capital, as the base for all our group holidays. This harbour front hotel has been recently renovated and all rooms are en-suite with a choice of double, twin or large single, with a lift to all floors. You can relax in the evening over a hearty meal prepared using local Orkney produce. On our holidays you are not restricted to the usual basic ‘tour group menu’. You instead have a completely free choice from the hotel’s extensive à la carte menu, with fresh local produce such as hand-dived scallops, crab and salmon or of course a decent steak from one of our wonderful grass fed beef cattle, followed perhaps by Orkney fudge cheesecake.

    Orkney has spectacular archaeology: the world famous Neolithic village of Skara Brae, Maeshowe chambered tomb and the amazing henge monuments of Brodgar and Stenness – all part of our World Heritage Site - are just the beginning. There are well over a thousand known archaeological sites, not to mention Orkney's many other attractions: abundant wildlife and birds, wildflowers in profusion, spectacular coastal scenery, tranquil inland lochs, traditional music, history and our unique island culture, with its strong Norse influences.

    Since Orkney is a group of islands we don’t restrict our holidays to just the Mainland (the largest island of the group). Some of the islands we visit are linked to each other by the Churchill barriers (originally built to protect the great naval harbour of Scapa Flow) whilst others are reached by modern vehicle and passenger ferries. We take the short ferry ride to the islands of Rousay and Hoy as part of our ‘Orkney Adventure’ holidays - part of the fun of visiting the islands is the ferry ride through our sheltered waters, with opportunities for wildlife spotting from the boats. There are always seabirds and seals, but if you’re exceptionally lucky you might see a porpoise or even an Orca.

    There are often ongoing excavations in Orkney, and we include visits to these if there are any accessible during your holiday. The most famous is the excavation of the Neolithic site of the Ness of Brodgar (perhaps better known as ‘Orkney’s Stone Age Temple’). The 2014 dateare from 14th of July to the 22nd of August.  

    If you take one of our 7-night ‘Orkney Adventure’ small group holidays you will visit all of the many sites and attractions described below - visit our website for full details and our current availability http://www.orkneyarchaeologytours.co.uk

    Sites on the Orkney Mainland and linked South Isles

    Barony Mill, Birsay: the last working water mill in Orkney – in winter a commercial mill, grinding traditional bere barley, oats and Orkney wheat, from May to September a visitor attraction. 

    Broch of Gurness: a 2000-year-old Iron Age settlement, the central tower still surrounded by its village.

    Brough of Birsay: an island with Pictish & Norse settlement and monastery, accessible only at low tide.

    Churchill Barriers: part of Scapa Flow’s Second World War defences, four barriers now with roads linking Mainland Orkney to Burray and South Ronaldsay.

    Corrigall Farm Museum: a traditional 18th century Orcadian farmstead, complete with drying kiln.

    Cuween Chambered Cairn:  a 5000-year-old Neolithic tomb that, when opened in the 19th century, contained the remains of 24 dogs in addition to eight people.

    Earl’s Palace, Birsay: the 16th century palace built by Earl Robert Stewart.

    Earl’s and Bishop’s Palaces, Kirkwall: the 12th century Bishop’s palace, built for the cathedral’s first bishop, and the early 17th century Earl’s Palace.

    Earl’s Bu, Orphir: remains of a 12th century Norse farmstead featured in the Orkneyinga Saga as the scene of a great Earl Paul’s yuletide feast, which ended in a notorious murder.

    Italian Chapel: the world famous ‘miracle of camp 60’, built with remarkable dedication from scavenged materials by Italian prisoners of war.

    Kirbister Farm Museum: the last surviving farmstead in Orkney to retain the traditional ‘firehoose’ with central hearth and fireback.

    Kirkwall, Orkney’s capital: the base for all our tours, with a pretty seafront ideal for evening strolls, a wide variety of shops selling local crafts, and a fine museum.

    Maeshowe: the finest example of a Neolithic chambered tomb in Britain, complete with the largest collection of Norse runic inscriptions outside Scandinavia.

    Mine Howe: where 2000 years ago a mysterious chamber was carved into the heart of a glacial mound, and you descend 29 steps into the underworld.  

    Rennibister Earth-house: an Iron Age subterranean chamber, discovered by chance in 1926 when a threshing machine fell through its roof.

    Round Kirk, Orphir: the remains of an early 12th century round church, featured in the Orkneyinga Saga.

    St. Magnus’ Cathedral: a magnificent 12th century sandstone cathedral, built by Earl Rognvald in honour of his martyred uncle St. Magnus.

    Scapa Flow: the best natural harbour in Britain and the main base of the Royal Navy in both World Wars.

    Skaill House: an early 17th century laird’s house, the home of William Watt, the discoverer of Skara Brae.

    Skara Brae: the world famous 5000-year-old Neolithic village on the shores of the Atlantic, uncovered after a great storm, part of Orkney’s World Heritage Site.

    Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar: two magnificent 5000-year-old henge monuments, set between the lochs of Harray and Stenness and a major component of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site.

    Stromness: charming small town with winding stone flagged streets, home to the Pier Arts Centre, renowned for its modern art collection, several other art galleries and a museum, together with shops selling a range of local crafts.

    The Island of Hoy

    Dwarfie Stane: an immense block of sandstone hollowed out using stone tools, possibly Britain’s only rock cut Neolithic tomb.

    Lyness Naval Museum & Scapa Flow Visitor Centre: housed in the former Royal Naval pumping station with all the original equipment, this museum houses a fine collection of relics of Orkney’s naval past.

    Martello Tower & Hackness Battery: built during the Napoleonic Wars to protect convoys assembling in Longhope Sound from attack by American and French privateers.

    The Island of Rousay

    Blackhammer Cairn: a 5000-year-old Neolithic tomb

    Midhowe Broch:  a fine example of an Iron Age settlement, looking out over Eynhallow Sound.

    Midhowe Cairn: known as the great ship of the dead – the largest of Orkney’s Neolithic stalled cairns.

    Taversöe Tuick Cairn: an unusual two storey burial mound, discovered in 1898 during the construction of a summer seat for the laird’s wife.

    Please visit our website for more information http://www.orkneyarchaeologytours.co.uk

    Opening Times
    Open All Year
    2014 Opening Times
    1 Jan 2014 - 1 Dec 2014

    Tour Orkney with an archaeologist tour guide. We offer private day tours of Orkney & private all-inclusive Orkney tours before the 4th May & after the 13th September. From May to September we offer small group all-inclusive Orkney holidays. Now booking for 2015 & 2016 book your Orkney tour now – some space left for 2014 tours & holidays.

    Payment Methods

    • BACS
    • Cheque
    • Internet Banking Transfer
    • PayPal

    Tour Duration

    • Day Tour
    • Multi-Day Tour

    Special Requirements

    • Allergy Sufferers We can arrange special diets on request
    • Disabled Citizens We are happy to welcome assistance dogs on our holidays - please let us know if you would like us to obtain a supply of your dog's food or provide blankets or dog baskets. We regret that our group holidays are unsuitable for disabled guests and our vehicle is not wheelchair acceessible. On our private tours we are happy to accept guests with mobility problems - please contact us and we will advise you.
    • Groups Welcome We are happy to cater for larger groups such as archaeology societies who wish to organise a members’ group visit to Orkney. We have an excellent working relationship with the family run Ayre Hotel on Kirkwall’s harbour front, which allows us to make large group bookings in the main season, when space in all Orkney hotels is at a premium. We can offer you a complete service with local coach hire in a range of configurations to suit your group size, from 15 seat luxury mini coaches, 33 seat midi coaches or full sized coach. Our local knowledge means we can plan your itinerary to ensure you see the best that Orkney has to offer, when the sites are at their quietest. Our status as Orkney’s only archaeologist run tour operator means that we are legally able to offer you all-inclusive tours fully compliant with the legal requirements of the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992. We have full Tour Operators Liability Insurance, Public Liability and Professional Indemnity Insurance via Touchstone Underwriting Ltd, Policy no: TOL602406 and copies can be supplied on request. Please contact us at least 18 months before your intended group visit, to enable us to give you our best attention and to ensure you can have your first choice of dates. It may be possible to accommodate your group at shorter notice, but hotel availability may limit your choice of dates.
    • Non smokers Smoking is not permitted in the tour vehicle or the hotel
    • Senior Citizens We are happy to accept anyone on our holidays but you do need to be fairly active & healthy to participate fully - please contact us for details.
    • Single Travellers Single travellers welcome

    Transport

    • Airport Transport Supplied On our private day tours we will collect you from anywhere in Mainland Orkney on the day of your tour. Other airport transfers are not included

    Transport within Scotland

    For public transport information to visit here from within Scotland, enter your postcode and visit date below.

    Journey Planner
    Attraction Special Offer
    Valid 9 Apr 2014 to 31 Oct 2014

    Early & Late season breaks; book a 2014 tour at last year's price -  we have availability for private tours anytime before the 4th of May & then after the 18th of September 2014

    Book anytime before the 31st October 2014

    Full details on our website http://www.orkneyarchaeologytours.co.uk

    Orkney tour prices:

    • Orkney Insights 4 nights, 3 day tour of Orkney: £995 per person, single supplement £120
    • Orkney Experience 6 nights, 5 day tour of Orkney: £1595 per person, single supplement £180

    Our tours are all-inclusive so the prices for our tours of Orkney include

    • Good quality hotel accommodation,
    • Breakfast and à la carte dinner at your hotel, soup and sandwich lunch at a pub or similar on tour
    • All entry fees & all ferry fares for island day trips, 
    • The services of your archaeologist driver-guide. 

    On our tours you are not restricted to the usual basic ‘tour group menu’. You instead have a completely free choice from the hotel’s extensive à la carte menu, with fresh local produce such as hand-dived scallops, crab and salmon or of course a decent steak from one of our wonderful grass fed beef cattle, followed perhaps by Orkney fudge cheesecake.

    We would suggest our 4-night, 3-day ‘Orkney Insights’ Tour to give you a true flavour of our magical islands, whilst if you have a little more time our 6-night, 5-day ‘Orkney Experience’ Tour includes the many delights of the islands of Hoy and Rousay. We can offer longer or shorter tours and we are happy to customise an itinerary if you have specific requirements.

    4-night, 3-day Orkney Insights Itinerary

    Day 1: arrive at your hotel in time for dinner.

    Day 2: Mainland Orkney travel round Scapa Flow to the Earl’s Bu and Round Kirk, Skara Brae, Skaill House, Maeshowe Chambered Cairn, the Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar.

    Day 3: Mainland Orkney Rennibister Earth-house, Cuween Cairn, the Churchill Barriers, the Italian Chapel, Mine Howe and St. Magnus’ Cathedral.

    Day 4: Mainland Orkney visit the Broch of Gurness, Kirbuster Farm Museum, the Brough of Birsay, the Earl’s Palace Birsay and the Barony Mill.

    6-night, 5-day Orkney Experience Itinerary

    If you prefer a 5-night, 4-day tour, we suggest the itinerary below, but with one of the island visits (either Hoy or Rousay) removed.

    Day 1: arrive at your hotel in time for dinner.

    Day 2: Mainland Orkney travel round Scapa Flow to the Earl’s Bu and Round Kirk, Skara Brae, Skaill House, Maeshowe Chambered Cairn, the Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar.

    Day 3: Island of Rousay Midhowe cairn, Midhowe Broch, Taversoe Tuick cairn and Blackhammer cairn.

    Day 4: Mainland Orkney Rennibister Earth-house, Cuween Cairn, the Churchill Barriers, the Italian Chapel, Mine Howe and St. Magnus’ Cathedral.

    Day 5: Island of Hoy Martello tower and Hackness Battery, the Dwarfie Stane and Lyness Visitor Centre. If you would prefer this trip could include the spectacular scenic walk to the famous Old Man of Hoy sea stack, combined with either the Dwarfie Stane or the Lyness Visitor Centre.

    Day 6: Mainland Orkney visit the Broch of Gurness, Kirbuster Farm Museum, the Brough of Birsay, the Earl’s Palace Birsay and the Barony Mill.

    Visit our website for full details and current availability http://www.orkneyarchaeologytours.co.uk

    Attraction Special Offer
    Valid 9 Apr 2014 to 31 Dec 2014

    Book a 2015 Orkney Adventure holiday with us before the 31st of December 2014 and pay the 2014 holiday price

    2015 Holiday price £1295 based on two sharing, single supplement £210

    Book before the 31st December 2014 to qualify for this offer

    Visit our website to book http://www.orkneyarchaeologytours.co.uk

    Our tours are all-inclusive so the price for this wonderful tour of Orkney includes:

    • 7 nights good quality hotel accommodation,
    • Breakfast and à la carte dinner at your hotel, soup and sandwich lunch at a pub or similar on tour
    • All entry fees & all ferry fares for island day trips, 
    • The services of your archaeologist driver-guide. 

    On a tour with us you are not restricted to the usual basic ‘tour group menu’. You instead have a completely free choice from the hotel’s extensive à la carte menu, with fresh local produce such as hand-dived scallops, crab and salmon or of course a decent steak from one of our wonderful grass fed beef cattle, followed perhaps by Orkney fudge cheesecake.

    This amazing Orkney tour includes all of the sites listed in the 'Orkney Adventure'  holiday itinerary below

    Saturday Day 1:Arrive at your hotel in time for dinner.

    Sunday Day 2: Travel round Scapa Flow to the 12th century Earl’s Bu and Round Kirk, then onwards to the Neolithic village of Skara Brae, the laird’s house at Skaill, and finally the henge monuments of the Ring of Brodgar and Stones of Stenness.

    Monday Day 3: We take a short ferry ride across to the island of Hoy to visit the Hackness Martello Tower and Napoleonic battery, Lyness Naval Museum and the Dwarfie Stane.

    Tuesday Day 4: The Earl’s and Bishop’s Palaces in Kirkwall, St. Magnus’ Cathedral, Rennibister Earth-house, Cuween Cairn, free time in Stromness, and finally the great chambered tomb of Maeshowe.

    Wednesday Day 5:Free time in Kirkwall, then Mine Howe, the Churchill Barriers, and the ‘miracle of camp 60’ the Italian Chapel.

    Thursday Day 6: A ferry ride to the island of Rousay, for a day of spectacular tombs:  Taversöe Tuick, Blackhammer and Midhowe Cairns and Midhowe Broch, and also if we’re lucky the chance to spot some seals.

    Friday Day 7: The Pictish and Norse settlement on the tidal island of the Brough of Birsay, the Earl’s Palace Birsay, the last working water mill in Orkney at the Barony Mills, Kirbister Farm Museum and the Broch of Gurness.

    Visit our website for more information & to book your tour of Orkney http://www.orkneyarchaeologytours.co.uk

    Attraction Special Offer
    Valid 1 May 2014 to 6 Sep 2014

    Late availability for our all-inclusive Orkney holidays led by archaeologists: last few places left on our Orkney holiday arriving Saturday 3rd May 2014

    One place available on our holiday arriving Saturday 30th August 2014

    Four places left on our holiday arriving Saturday 6th September 2014

     

     

     

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