Prehistoric Sites


Rousay's major archaeological sites are clearly labelled from the road ringing the island. Heading west from the ferry, you soon come to Taversoe Tuick, an intriguing burial cairn constructed on two levels, with separate entrances – perhaps a joint tomb for different families; a semidetached solution in posthumous housing. Not far beyond are two other significant cairns: Blackhammer, then Knowe of Yarso, the latter a fair walk up the hill but with majestic views.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Orkney attractions

1. Trumland House

0.87 MILES

This is one of Orkney's largest private houses, undergoing some much-needed repair at the time of research. The grounds, with their thicket of native…

2. Wyre

1.95 MILES

Wyre is just off Rousay, and accessed from the same ferry. It was the domain of the Viking Baron Kolbein Hruga (known as ‘Cubbie Roo’). The substantial…

3. Broch of Gurness

2.32 MILES

Here is a fine example of the drystone fortified towers that were both a status symbol for powerful farmers and useful protection from raiders some 2200…

4. Midhowe Cairn & Broch

3.38 MILES

Six miles from the ferry on Rousay, mighty Midhowe Cairn has been dubbed the 'Great Ship of Death'. Built around 3500 BC and enormous, it's divided into…

5. Egilsay


Egilsay is the larger of the two islands off Rousay, and is accessed from the same ferry. The RSPB have a base here; listen for the corncrakes at the…

6. Burroughston Broch

8.54 MILES

About 4 miles from the Shapinsay pier, at the far northeastern corner of the island, is Iron Age Burroughston Broch, one of the best-preserved brochs …

7. Barony Mills

10.15 MILES

This working watermill is a satisfying sight – it's still running, and producing flour from bere (a type of barley) that you'll find in baked morsels…

8. Eday Heritage & Visitor Centre

10.32 MILES

Set in a former church, this place has a range of local history exhibits, as well as an audiovisual display about tidal energy initiatives: there's a big…