The Scapa Flow Landscape Partnership Scheme

Archaeology and History

Interior, Howe. (c) Charles Tait

Orkney is known worldwide for its rich archaeological heritage. The natural environment has shaped the built environment, causing early settlers to create tombs and homes using local stone. Changes in climate and the development of agriculture have moulded the landscape that can be seen today.

Much of Orkney's ancient archaeology is well-preserved since it was built out of stone. The lack of suitable wood available for building led to stone being adopted as the primary building material in the islands.  Orkney's best known ancient site is Skara Brae, a Neolithic village which is a part of Orkney's World Heritage Site. The site has a superb visitor centre and is linked with Skaill House, the laird's home in that area.The earliest known sites are at Links House on the island of Stronsay and at Longhowe in Tankerness, where recent excavations revealed material from the Mesolithic period.

This section focuses on the earliest settlers in the islands, the development of communities, and Orkney's role in two world wars.