Brough of Birsay

Orkney | Birsay | Island | ★★★

[Norse settlement and causeway, Brough of Birsay]

From a distance the Brough of Birsay looks like a featureless, grassy slope of an island, well under a kilometre across at its widest point. But peel away the surface, like archaeologists have already done here, and you can explore a Viking settlement and Romanesque monastery on the eastern half of the island. Head to the west side along one of the numerous coastal paths and you'll find 40-metre cliffs home to puffins and other seabirds in early summer, overlooked by a stumpy lighthouse. The path to the island from Birsay is via a tidal causeway flanked by some of the most sealife-rich rockpools anywhere in the UK.

[Brough of Birsay lighthouse]

Location & info

📌 Brough of Birsay (buildings) ★★★
Far end of tidal causeway to Brough of Birsay, 1 mi northwest of Birsay village, Orkney Mainland. Visitor centre is at G.R.: HY 239285 ///soccer.reseller.hike
Always open (visitor centre open daily, mid June to September, tides permitting) | £6 adult / £3.60 child / free for Historic Environment Scotland members. Charges only apply during visitor centre opening hours.

💬 Access is a 5-min walk on foot by a concrete tidal causeway. Be aware of safe crossing times and leave plenty of time for the return journey.

📌 Brough of Birsay (island) ★★★
1 mi northwest of Birsay village, Orkney Mainland. Lighthouse is at the northwest tip of the island, at G.R.: HY 234286 ///spin.pebble.samplers
Always open | Charges apply if the visitor centre is open - see above

💬 Tidal causeway access (see above), with lighthouse and cliffs a further 10-min uphill walk on grassy paths.

[Rockpools surrounding the causeway are rich in sealife]


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