At home we had arranged a private tour with Jean Ross who met us right on the dock. Jean whisked us off to The Standing Stones of Stenness and while there was a light rain, we were able to walk around these pillars of rock dragged up by the early settlers on slippery seaweed and raw human power. It’s interesting how many of the standing stone sites are being closed to easy access by tourists. The famous Stonehenge site is completely fenced off as many others will be soon, We have been fortunate to be able to see the standing stones close up and personal.
Of particular interest was the next stop just s short distance away at the Ness of Brodgar where an active archeological dig is going on right now! We watched the excavators digging and sifting the earth while they made notes on the maps and waterproof papers. Only a quarter hour away from the archeological dig we walked around another field of standing stones, The Ring of Brodgar. Jean told us that there is serious debate about letting these open to the public or closed with a fence as we discussed earlier. In any event, we got to do the tour around this ring.
Lunch came at a local brewery with a flight of three brews to go with our salmon salad. The light beer was the best of the three to our taste.
The drive to Skara Brae - a site unearthed in a violent storm only a few years ago was about an hour. We began to see the common element in these ancient dwellings with un-mortared stone walls. Skara Brae was very well reconstructed and showed many layers of advancing civilization.
Our last stop before returning to the ship, was Anne’s delight. A real wool shop called the Woolshed run by Denise - a real character. Anne bought an armful of yarn and some fleece to spin (for her knitting teacher).
All in all we haas a wonderful tour with a little less hecticness because it was private and we did not have to keep up with a big group of tourists.