General Information

Coastline Furry Cows Beautiful House

We traveled by ferry from The West Mainland of Orkney to Rousay. During the fall, we were able to get on an early ferry without reservations. In the busy months, to get a car across requires a reservation. Riding the ferry without the car is an easier matter, but in order to get around Rousay, you would at least need a bike.

The ferry itself was an adventure. Second day with a standard with the other hand, driving on the other side, backing up on to a ferry. Needless to say the recalled us on the return trip and made plenty of room for us.

Fluffy Pony Endless Road Map of circular road on Roussay

Rousay had one main road that circles the island. Taking a left on to the road form the ferry will bring you along a beautiful drive towards the largest density of archeological sites. The first two stops brought us on hillwalks through heather to get to the site and the site with Midhowe Tomb had many other interesting historical sites along a nice shoreline walk. The visit makes for a perfect day trip. Mind to bring a picnic lunch with you as there are not restaurants along the way.

Taversoe Tuick

Entrance to the tomb Inside the tomb

There are two known multi level cairns in Orkney, one of which is Taversoe Tuick. Because it was built on a slope, there are separate entrances to the two chambers, similar to a split level house. Taversoe Tuick was built 4500 years ago by a farming community on this island. Along with human remains, there was pottery, flint and stone tools. Another feature that sets this cairn apart from others is that there were no animal bones found at this site.

Map of ground floor Map of uper floor


We do not have a lot of information about this particular Cairn, except that it is much more easily accessible than that of Yarso. Our apologies for not having any photos available of this site.

Knowe of Yarso

Map from info board at site Walking trail Inside the tomb

The parking lot carpark) for this site fits about 2 cars. It is located at the end of a dirt road that a farm and some homes are situated on. The road leads to a path that goes up and right to the tomb. The hike is a bit strenuous compared to the other sites on this island, but we found the walk to be a nice one with views of the ocean in the distance and heater at our feet.

Midhowe Broch and Cairn (and Westness Walk)

View of the sites Skaill Farmhouse Wirk (church) cemetery

This part of our visit may be the most memorable part. Midhowe Cairn (also called the 'Great Ship of Death') is covered by a modern structure to protect it from further deterioration. It is the largest known of its kind, and dates back to the Stone ages. A fortified settlement aside the tomb dates back to the Bronze and Iron ages. The settlement is amazing to visit as well. You are able to walk down into the structures and see remains of hearths and stairs. This site is a must see.

Midhowe Broch Midhowe Cairn Inside the Broch

Midhowe Broch and Cairn are part of a mile long walk skirting the shore. The remaining structures along this walk span about 5000 years. The travel booklet we picked up at the airport notes that the walk includes the following note:

Described as the most important archeological mile in Scotland, it spans settlements from the first Stone Age settlers, the Pictish Iron Age, the Viking invaders, the period of the Earls and the troubled crofting times.

Honestly, we have no idea what the 'troubled crofting times' were, though it was problably over the last 100 years or so, but the walk was impressive none the less.

We did find out that crofting is a traditional Scottish form of using strips of land owned by others or the government. They may grow produce or raise farm animals on the land and there is some funding to help out, but it appears that it is hard labor that seems to be of a passing era. On the TV Show Monarch of the Glen, Golly MacKenzie was a crofter but as TV goes, we never really saw him crofting as we can recall.