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What’s on Mainland Orkney

Orkney’s main island is simply referred to as the Mainland, with most of its population living in and around the towns of Kirkwall and Stromness. Must-see archaeological attractions here include the Ring of Brodgar stone circle, the chambered cairn of Maeshowe and the incredibly well-preserved Skara Brae village. A wide range of sporting and outdoor activities are available, making for action-packed days out, and there are a variety of annual events and festivals for everyone to enjoy. Too many to list in full here, these include the Orkney Folk Festival, which takes place in May; The St Magnus Festival, which celebrates the arts in its many forms each summer; The County Show, which gives farmers the chance to meet, compete and showcase the best of Orkney farming produce every August; and the Orkney International Science Festival, which attracts world-class speakers and scientific experts to the islands each September.

area highlights

Year-round, Orkney:

A late Neolithic circle of 27 upright stones and one of the finest stone circles anywhere, this great henge monument is situated on the Ness of Brodgar, a short distance away from the Stones of Stenness.

Year-round, Kirkwall:

A fine example of Romano-Gothic architecture, St Magnus Cathedral took about 300 years to build (the foundations starting in 1137) and is of international significance.

Open year-round, Stromness

Come and see the best preserved prehistoric village in Northern Europe.

Year-round, Orkney:

Although small by Maeshowe’s standards, the Cuween cairn is nonetheless an impressive feat of prehistoric engineering.

Year-round, Kirkwall:

Highland Park is the northernmost Scotch Whisky distillery in the world, and a visit to its five-star, award-winning visitor centre is a must.

Year round, Orkney:

A recently rediscovered Iron Age chamber and the subject of two Time Team programmes.

Year-round, Kirkwall:

The Museum tells the story of Orkney throughout the ages from the Stone Age.

Year-round, Stromness:

Many of the museum’s exhibits reflect the importance of Orkney’s maritime history.

Year-round, Stromness:

A highly acclaimed modern art gallery housing an important collection of British fine art donated by Margaret Gardiner.

Year-round, Orkney:

Click Mill is the last surviving horizontal water mill in Orkney, of a type well represented in Shetland and Lewis.


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