Knap of Howar

Top choice in Orkney

By the seashore, this sturdy stone-built farmhouse and storeroom are solidly built testimony to crofting life on Papa Westray island…5500 years ago. An astonishing sight, it's one of the best-preserved neolithic houses in northern Europe. As with Skara Brae, you can see various stone furnishings and compartments in the house; the adjacent building was an add-on that appears to have been used to store food and perhaps tools. It's a half-mile stroll from Beltane, down the bottom of a cow paddock.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Orkney attractions

1. Bothy Museum

0.36 MILES

On a historic farm in the centre of Papa Westray, this tiny museum is packed full of objects from the everyday life of the island's past. Agricultural…

2. St Boniface Kirk

0.65 MILES

This pretty church stands near the shore surrounded by a picturesque graveyard. Papa Westray was the cradle of Christianity in Orkney, and this was…

3. Kelp Store

0.87 MILES

This 18th-century seaweed shed has been impressively restored and holds an interesting exhibition on Papa Westray's history and craft traditions.

4. Holm of Papay

1.49 MILES

This uninhabited island just off the eastern shore of Papa Westray is notable for its three chambered cairns, the largest of which (South Cairn) is most…

5. Westray Heritage Centre

3.62 MILES

This heritage centre has displays on local history, nature dioramas and archaeological finds, with some famous neolithic carvings (including the 5000-year…

6. Noltland Castle

3.87 MILES

A half-mile west of Pierowall stands this sturdy ruined tower house, built in the 16th century by Gilbert Balfour, aide to Mary, Queen of Scots. The…

7. Noup Head

5.75 MILES

This bird reserve at Westray's northwestern tip is a dramatic area of sea cliffs, with vast numbers of breeding seabirds from April to July. You can walk…

8. Eday Heritage & Visitor Centre

11.39 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…