Orkney, the Egypt of the North
80 images Created 30 Sep 2015
Orkney, an archipelago in the Northern Scotland, are approximately 70 islands and the largest is Mainland. The islands are mainly low-lying except for rugged cliffs on some western coasts. Mesolithic and Neolithic tribes invading the Orkney islands cultivated the land, built farmsteads and rapidly established a vibrant culture, erecting giant stone circles, chambered communal tombs. About 5,000 years ago, Orkney was the centre for innovation for the British isles. Ideas spread from this place to the rest of the Neolithic Britain. Orkney are called the “Egypt of the North” because contains some of the oldest and best-preserved Neolithic sites in Europe, designated UNESCO World Heritage. The village of Skara Brae is Europe's best-preserved Neolithic settlement, older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids it has been called the "Scottish Pompeii" because of its excellent preservation. Other remains from that era include the Standing Stones of Stenness, the Maeshowe Passage grave, the Ring of Brogdar and other standing stones. Later the islands were occupied and settled by the Norse and reannexed by Scotland only in 1472. The most impressive Iron Age structures are the ruins of round towers called “brochs" but later the Vikings made the islands the headquarters of their pirate expedition against the coasts of Scotland. After the Norse occupation, the toponymy of Orkney became almost wholly Norse and the local rich folklore has strong Scandinavian connections. St. Magnus Cathedral dominates the skyline of Kirkwall, the main town capital of the islands and is the most northerly cathedral in Britain, built when the islands were ruled by the Norse Earls of Orkney.