Stromness forms the gateway to Orkney for most people. The pier seen from between
the town's tight rows of houses
Orkney's 'Mainland' - the slightly confusing word is applied to much the largest island of the Orkney archipelago - is one of the most intensely occupied areas of western Europe. The resulting remains are fascinating and extend back for 5,000 years, offering evidence of complex cultures that have inhabited the islands. The ground is fertile and the fish have been plentiful, the main down side is the perpetual wind which greatly reduces the tree population. This page offers a glimpse of the island through some of the remains, and starts with the second largest community - Stromness.
Stromness - seen from an approaching boat...
...Stromness - not seen at dusk. It lies behind the two islets (the Inner and Outer Holm) seen here from across Clestrain Sound
The ferry from Scrabster (just by Thurso on the Scottish mainland) only takes about 90 minutes on a good day. But the Pentland Firth, through which it must plough its way, is notorious for its bad weather, and its exceptional currents. Indeed there are claims that current speeds of 30 kilometres per hour are found which puts it amongst the fastest currents in the world. So arriving at Stromness is not always a sad parting from the ship for some travellers!
Thirty years ago the Orcadia plied Scrabster to Stromness - a substantial vessel here unloading goods
Stromness town crowds down around the harbour...
...its narrow streets huddling along the shore. Maybe the wind explains the town 'planning', and the search for protection seems to have changed little in the last...
...5,000 years from when the inhabitants of Skara Brae built their houses. One of the entrances to the village...
...is shown above; although the people were certainly shorter, they would have still had to double up for this doorway - but it offers highly protected access
A loftier entrance! The village of Skara Brae was uncovered from the sands in 1850 by a storm...
...It sits beside the Bay of Skaill on the western seaboard of the island. This sudden exposure left the houses remarkably intact. The relation to the sea has probably changed considerably over five millennia
In the living area of one of the ten houses; featuring a stone 'cupboard'
Possibly around a thousand years after Skara Brae was occupied, the standing stones of the Ring of Brodgar were set in place
- although their date is very uncertain
Rather like an earlier form of one of those Moai on Easter Island, this Brodgar standing stone keeps watch across the Loch of Stenness; and across the millennia
The Ring of Broadgar is one of only three full circles in the UK
Jumping on another thousand years or more, the remains of the Broch of Gurness looks over to Eynhallow Isle
The broch now stands at 10 feet (3 metres) a third of its original height
The broch was probably originally constructed in around 400 BCE and was abandoned just after the Romans invaded the British Islands
Concluding this whistle stop sketch of Orkney buildings - the round kirk of Orphir was built in penance for the murder of (later St.) Magnus, in the early 1100s
But the Orkneys are not all ruins. The beautiful natural landscape, here, it is shown in the
form of the Sands of Evie ...
...and the active community life, contribute their part to the richness of these islands
Two photos from the annual show, with the award of first prize to the above competitor
A boat leaving Stromness with the backdrop of Hoy - PicturePosting's next stop
The next page
of this section takes you to views of Hoy from the ferry as it passes the island's cliffs.
The next page
of the Mosaic Section is headed 'Creation v. Expression'.
Or go to the
Go to the contents of the Mosaic Section.
of the Mosaic Section.