Brochs & Stones: Ancient Symbols of Power

  • Port

    Kirkwall, Scotland, United Kingdom

  • Activity Level


  • Excursion Type

    Local Sightseeing, All

  • Wheelchair Accessible


  • Starting At


  • Minimum Age

    Information not currently available.

  • Duration

    Approximately 3½ Hours

  • Meals Included


A broch is a type of fortified drystone building found only in Scotland.

Today, you'll head to the northeast of mainland Orkney to see the Broch of Gurness. Dating from 200 BC, the broch was discovered in 1929 and conveys a strong sense of grandeur with its imposing tower, ramparts and Iron Age house ruins.

Your knowledgeable guide leads you through the site, explaining what has been learned from the structures that remain today. The sprawl of houses filled all the available space between the broch and the outer defenses and probably housed up to 40 families. The semi-detached stone-built dwellings were portioned off into separate living areas; each contained a hearth, stone furniture, and even a recognizable privy.

Travel to the center of Orkney for a contrasting visit to the Ring of Brodgar. This is a fine, truly circular, early Bronze Age stone ring and is an icon of Orkney's ancient heritage. This great henge monument is superbly situated on the Ness of Brodgar, on a windswept sloping plane that is surrounded by the agricultural heart of Orkney. Henges are an entirely British phenomenon, dating from approximately 3000 BC and appearing as far apart as Cornwall and Orkney. They typically contain a circle of standing stones. The purpose of the ring is not known, but it is commonly accepted that all henges had a ritual or ceremonial purpose.

Your guide will interpret and discuss with you some of the theories surrounding this mystery -- perhaps the megaliths provided a sacred ceremonial site, a prehistoric meeting place, a method of mapping the heavens, or even a monument to ancestors. The culture that designed and constructed the ring is long forgotten, but its legacy is left to amaze modern generations of visitors.