Orkney Islands

The Orkney Islands are an archipelago of about seventy islands located in Scotland. About twenty of the Orkney Islands are inhabited, and are located to the north of Caithness. The Orkney Islands have a total population of about twenty thousand residents, and cover an area of about three hundred and eighty two square miles. Archeological evidence suggests that the Orkney Islands have been populated for nearly nine thousand years, although permanent settlements did not emerge until about five thousand five hundred years ago. Those first settlements, especially Skara Brae, are some of the best known archeological sites in Europe, lending themselves to both tourism and academic pursuits. Other notable historic locations in the Orkeny Islands include the Maeshowe passage grave, the Standing Stones of Stenness, and the Ring of Brodgar. Orkney was eventually controlled by Rome and Norway, although the islands eventually fell under the control of the Scots and the British Empire.

The Orkney Islands are relatively flat islands, with the exception of a few sandstone hills and cliffs on the western coastlines of the archipelago. The Orkney Islands have a number of highly scenic and ruggedly beautiful lochs, although there are very few trees in the archipelago. The largest Orkney Island is known as the Mainland, which contains about three fourths of the territory’s population and the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site. The North Isles include a number of uninhabited islands as well as a few inhabited islands and castle ruins. The North Isles are generally connected by boat and airplane, with an economy based on the mining of limestone and peat. The final group of islands, the South Isles, is home to the Tomb of the Eagles, Hoy Lighthouse, and the Churchill Barriers. One of the most prominent geographic features of the Orkney Islands is the Old Man of Hoy, a pillar of sandstone in the ocean off the coast of Hoy.