Brough of Birsay (Orkney Islands)
The Brough of Birsay is a small 21-hectare uninhabited tidal island off the north-west coast of The Mainland of Orkney. The Island has Celtic and Norse remains and is well known for the breeding colony of Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis) and Guillemot (Uria aalge)
The island is accessible on foot at low tide via a 240 metre long causeway over the Sound of Birsay.
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In this 'you may also like' section we attempt to answer what else can I do? Here you have a list by order of being the closest some more beaches, things to see and do, places to eat and upcoming events.
- Barony Mill, also known as the Boardhouse Mill, is a 19th century water-powered mill still in operation located near Stringburn Twatt on the north of the Orkney mainland. Little has changed since Barony Mill first opened in 1873. The mill mainly grinds bere, an ancient form of barley. All grinding is done during the winter, and in the summer it throws open its doors to the public when demonstrations of the machinery are given by the miller.
- The Stone o’ Quoybune is solitary standing stone of prehistoric origin in Birsay in Orkney. The stone stands at nearly 4m high and is one of the Orcadian standing stones associated with the folklore of the ‘petrified giant’. The myth says that each New Year, the Stone o’ Quoybune goes down to the nearby Boardhouse Loch and takes a drink. If you were to see the stone taking this annual trek, then supposedly you would not live to see another new year.
- Marwick Head is a Nature Reserve run by the RSPB located 4 miles north of Skara Brae on the western side of the Orkney mainland. Facing the Atlantic Ocean, the Marwick Head sandstone cliffs are home to thousands of nesting seabirds including kittiwakes, puffins, guillemots, razorbills and fulmars. In Marwick Bay, you can also see many wading birds and ducks, as well as hen harriers (if you’re lucky) and short-eared owls. Take the circular Marwick Head clifftop walk and marvel at the stunning views over to the island of Hoy. Open throughout the year, for more information on the RSPB reserve at Marwick Head, go to www.rspb.org.uk
- Skara Brae is a large Neolithic settlement, located on the Bay of Skaill. The settlement consists of ten clustered houses, dated from the late Neolithic and inhabited for around 600 years, between 3200BC and 2200BC. The settlement is one of Europe’s most complete Neolithic village and has been called the “Scottish Pompeii” because of its excellent preservation. Because of this protection by the sand that covered the settlement the buildings, and their contents, are well-preserved. Not only can you see the walls of the structures but they are roofed with their original stone slabs, and the interior fittings of each house give a view of life was about. Skara Brae is within the Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- The Sands of Evie is a sandy beach within Aikerness Bay, protected by the Point of Hellia headland. The beach is a sheltered, shallow shelving sandy beach, which is large at low tide. When the tide comes in provides excellent shallow water to play in. The beach overlooks the small island of Eynhallow and Rousay across Eynhallow Sound. Small car parks either side of the beach, toilets at the Western car park.
- The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village overlooking Eynhallow Sound. All that remains of the village is the 3.6 metres (11.8 ft) high central tower and the thick stone walls. The broch has the remains of a settlement surrounding and adjoining it.
- The Ring of Brodgar is a Neolithic henge and stone circle and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Heart of Neolithic Orkney. The site is generally thought to have been erected between 2500 BC and 2000 BC. Most henges do not contain stone circles; Brodgar is a striking exception. The ring of stones stands on a small isthmus between the Lochs of Stenness and Harray. There are no obvious stones inside the circle, but since the interior of the circle has never been excavated by archaeologists, the possibility remains that structures may be present. The stone circle is the third largest in the British Isles at some 104 metres (341 ft) in diameter and set within a circular ditch. The ring originally comprised 60 stones, of which less than 30 remain standing. The tallest stones stand at the south and west of the ring.
- The Pier Arts Centre was established in 1979 to provide a home for an important collection of British fine art donated by the author, peace activist and philanthropist Margaret Gardiner. Alongside the permanent collection the Centre curates a year round programme of changing exhibitions and events. The arts centre is within original listed buildings and pier that characterise the historic town of Stromness once housed the office and stores of the Hudson’s Bay Company.
- Maes Howe is a Neolithic chambered cairn and passage grave and is one of the largest on Orkney. The cairn gives its name to the Maeshowe type of chambered cairn, which is limited to Orkney. Maes Howe appears as a grassy mound near the south-east end of the Loch of Harray. The mound encasing the tomb is 115 feet (35 m) in diameter and rises to a height of 24 feet (7.3 m). Surrounding the mound is a ditch up to 45 feet (14 m) wide. The grass mound hides a complex of passages and chambers built of large carefully crafted slabs of flagstone. It is aligned so that the rear wall of its central chamber is illuminated on the winter solstice. Maes Howe is within the Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- The Standing Stones of Stenness is a Neolithic monument located on a promontory at the south bank of the stream that joins the southern ends of the sea loch Loch of Stenness and the freshwater Loch of Harray. The site is thought to date from at least 3000 BC. The Ring of Brodgar and Maeshowe cairn is just over 1 km away suggesting that this area had particular importance. The stones were original elements of a stone circle of 12 stones, about 32 m (104 ft) diameter. The 5.6 m (18 ft) high Stenness Watch Stone stands outside the circle. The Standing Stones of Stenness is at the Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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