Historic Rousay

Orkney | Rousay | Chambered cairns & broch | ★★★★

[Midhowe Chambered Cairn]

Visit Orkney and you're likely to hear a phrase something like, "scratch the surface of Orkney and it bleeds history". Nowhere more so than little Rousay: the road that circumnavigates the island is only 14 miles long, but the number of archaeological sites discovered so far numbers in the hundreds. Even better, all of them are free. The island's nickname, Egypt of the North, is apt. The most famous sites are clustered on the southwest side of the island with beautiful views towards Eynhallow and its ruined church, and beyond towards the Broch of Gurness on Mainland. The Taversoe Hotel is probably the best place for a meal, with other options near the ferry terminal. Finally, don't be thinking that everything interesting on Rousay is manmade. Much of the moorland interior is an SSSI for its bird and plant life, and there are plenty of interesting coastal features as well, Sacquoy Head included.

[Midhowe Broch]

Location & info

📌 Blackhammer Chambered Cairn ★★
💬 7-stalled burial cairn close to road, today capped by a rather ugly concrete roof.
By the B9064 1.5 mi west of the ferry terminal, Rousay, G.R.: HY 414276 ///divisions.paraded.stint
Always open | Free

📌 Knowe of Yarso Chambered Cairn ★★★
💬 Large, 5,000-year-old stalled tomb with good views over Eynhallow Sound.
Off the B9064 2 mi west of the ferry terminal, Rousay, G.R.: HY 405279 ///fresh.spectacle.pounce
Always open | Free

Anything else? Knowe of Yarso is a 10-min walk (each way) uphill from the dedicated parking area on a narrow moorland path, steep in places.

📌 Midhowe Broch ★★★★
💬 Probably Orkney's best preserved broch, the interior crowded with iron age furniture and partitioned rooms.
Off the B9064 5 mi west of the ferry terminal, Rousay, G.R.: HY 372306 ///debut.most.important
Always open | Free

Anything else? Midhow Broch has the same parking as for Midhowe Cairn below, but with a 2-min walk further north along the coast.

📌 Midhowe Chambered Cairn ★★★★
💬 Vast chambered tomb dating back to Neolithic times, protected from the elements by a hangar-like structure which also allows viewing from above.
Off the B9064, 5 mi west of the ferry terminal, Rousay, G.R.: HY 373305 ///item.coverings.third
Always open | Free

Anything else? Midhowe Chambered Cairn is by the coast, a 10-min walk (each way) steeply downhill from the signposted parking area on a grassy path.

📌 Taversöe Tuick Chambered Cairn ★★★
💬 Unusual 2-storey, triple-chambered tomb, originally all with separate entrances.
Off the B9064 half a mile west of the ferry terminal, Rousay, G.R.: HY 426277 ///skipped.burn.heaven
Always open | Free

Anything else? Taversöe Tuick Chambered Cairn is a 5-min walk (each way) uphill from a dedicated layby on a fairly wide path.



[Access hatch to Taversöe Tuick's third chamber]

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