Read our 2011 reviews
I had been dreaming of going to the Orkneys or some other remote part of Scotland, and my particular interest is archaeology. While I don't usually travel with any kind of tour, it seemed to me that going on my own to see sites outside cities and scattered over a largely rural area would be next to impossible, especially given that the thought of renting a car in the UK was not appealing. As soon as I read about Orkney Archaeology Tours it sounded perfect, and the trip absolutely lived up to my expectations. Caz was a wonderful guide and the size of the group was fantastic. The Ayre Hotel was a very comfortable and cosy place to be based, and the Orkneys were a fantastic exception to the increasingly globalized world--well set up to welcome travelers, not poor and "exotic" but rather unique and not touristy in a cheap way. Very special place, and this tour is the way to see it. I'm already dreaming of coming back for the follow-up trip. Can't recommend it highly enough. Visited September 2011
My daughter and I had one of the best trips we've ever had, thanks to Caz Mamwell's private archaeology tour. Can't believe all the amazing and interesting archaeological and historical sites that we visited in our 3-day trip! We crawled into tombs and mysterious iron-age earth houses; toured a 5000 year old village; got a real cultural tour of Orkney; and saw the cute North Ronaldsay seaweed-eating sheep at the farm museum. The trip included accommodation and food at the Lynnfield hotel, which was very cozy and nice. Our guide, Caz, who is an archaeologist, is very knowledgeable, well-organized, professional and can answer questions on a wide range of topics. If you have limited time and want a special trip, go see the sites in beautiful Orkney with Caz. Visited September 2011
To maximize your enjoyment, be sure to bring rain gear--if Caz bundles up, then you probably should, too. Be sure to tell her in advance if there are impairments--some of the tomb entrances are rather claustrophobic! Visited April 2011
I enjoyed the week-long Orkney Archaeology trip, visiting mainly Neolithic sites in the company of seven other tourists, guided by the amusing and informative Caz. We were lucky to see Orkney in sunshine most days, a beautiful and restful group of islands. There were one or two visits I was less interested in (Martello tower, mill and Italian chapel), but nonetheless these were attractive sites and were more than made up for by the major Neolithic sites such as Skara Brae, the Ness of Brodgar excavation, Mine Howe etc. Caz took great care of us, the hotel was very comfortable and the whole trip was very well organised and managed. Visiting the sites in the company of a trained archaeologist certainly brought a great deal of extra insight into the features and mysteries associated with the ancient past. Visited August 2011
This was our second week with Caz leading an Orkney Archaeological Tour, having done a week mainly on the mainland with Hoy and Rousay two years ago. We so enjoyed it that we could not wait to see what the islands held. It was a brilliant week with a different island each day and we saw some amazing Neolithic sites. It was especially interesting to hear about the Noltland Links site on Westray form the archaeologist on the site. There is archaeology coming out of the ground everywhere and it is fascinating to wander over these sites searching for scrapers and other tools left by the inhabitants so long ago. If you are interested in archaeology, especially prehistory, this is the trip for you. Caz is an outstanding guide with a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm for her subject. She also tells you many interesting stories about the islands and their people. We stayed in a superb hotel with wonderful food and travelled in a comfortable minibus driven very competently by Caz. Lunches out were scrumptious too. Finally, Orkney is a really beautiful place, peaceful and relaxing. We will be back!
After day one of our holiday with Orkney Archaeology Tours, I knew that I wanted to come back. I can't wait for July 7th 2012 when we will do part two. Caz is a super guide who is incredibly knowledgeable about Orkney. We did the tour ostensibly to see the biggies - Skara Brae, Maes Howe and the Ring of Brodgar - but we thoroughly enjoyed seeing the lesser sights - the brochs, the earth house at Rennibister and the various chambered cairns. Visiting the Martello Tower and naval museum on Hoy and the Doocot on the mainland were good too as it was fun to learn about a different period of history. Visited July 2011
If you like crawling into ancient tombs, tales of Vikings with evocative names like Skullsplitter, stories of local characters and seeing some of the best Neolithic buildings in the world, this is the place for you. If you like lying on the beach in the sun with your only exercise going to the bar for another cocktail then this really wouldn't be your thing. We went on the 6 day tour with 6 complete strangers and Caz our Guide, driver and sergeant -major ensuring we didn't throw ourselves headlong into bottomless pits kill ourselves crossing roads or come up with yet another stupid theory about stalled cairns! The group comprised three couples and two singles, all similar age (middle-aged). We all stayed in the same comfortable and friendly Hotel where we spent the evenings happily discussing the day's sights.
Orkney has a very long history and the tour gave us so much information about each period. What surprised us most was how much we enjoyed the things that did not look so promising on the agenda. The two farmhouses and the mill were fascinating and even the naval museum had a very interesting film about Orkney in the wars.
The Neolithic sites were amazing, particularly Skara Brae. I loved the Souterrains - particularly Grain in Kirkwall itself. Not part of the tour but you can pick up the key and a free torch from the Ortak jewellery shop and wander round to your hearts content!
There were so many good memories. The isle of Rousay and its tombs, particularly Mid Howe, the ample lunches with home-baked shortbread. Caz's knowledge and her enthusiasm for archaeology. the dig at the Ness of Brodgar (which we are now following online) and the general atmosphere of the place are all still fondly remembered.
The following tips may be helpful.
The weather can be colder than you'd expect. Take a hat and anything windproof you can find.
There is not much nightlife in Kirkwall. The Reel is a good place for music though. You should book in advance.
There is a modest amount of physical exercise, up and down ladders crawling along passages (if you want to) and through entrance passages to get to the tombs - which are usually quite spacious inside
An excellent week and one I would recommend to anyone who wants to learn about one of the most interesting and varied parts of the British Isles Visited July 2011
We have been frequent travellers since the 70s but this 6-day tour was our first ever organised tour. However our experience was so positive that before leaving Orkney we booked one of Caz's Island Extra tours for August 2012. It is difficult to think of anything we could suggest to improve Caz's tour:
- meticulous organisation with great attention paid to the safety and comfort of participants;
- the accommodation was very comfortable in what is probably Kirkwall’s/Orkney's best hotel. Our room was in the new wing and had a good view over the harbour;
- generous servings of good quality food both in the hotel and for lunches;
- the tour concentrated on some of Orkney's most important historical and archaeological sites, but we also enjoyed the opportunity to explore its two main towns as well as see a variety of its landscapes and some of its wildlife;
- most important of all perhaps was the way in which Caz used her archaeological knowledge and familiarity with Orkney life and history to ensure that the tour was much more than just a succession of visits to sites.
This holiday exceeded all the expectations that we had. Every aspect of the holiday was well thought out - the comprehensiveness of the cover of historic sites, the quality of the accommodation. The knowledge and unfailing courtesy of Caz who guided us throughout the week was brilliant. We cannot speak too highly of the week, the fact that we went to sites not visited by vast hordes of folks was much to our advantage plus the fact that with such a small group Caz was able to address any question and give out information without any feeling of being rushed. An incredible holiday well worth recommending to anyone with an interest in history. Visited June 2011
As someone who has been arranging and leading archaeological tours for some 27 years I was impressed by the organisation, the hotel accommodation, the balance of the itinerary, the preparation, the timing of the days & the clarity of the talks. Caz knows what she is doing. That is the highest praise I can give. On a personal level I found it a thrill to visit places I had known of for years but never dreamt I would ever see. I cannot recommend this holiday enough. Visited June 2011
I have long been interested in Orkney, as a result of wide reading, especially the Orkneyinga Saga and Dorothy Dunnett's "King Hereafter" (based on the premise that Macbeth and Earl Thorfinn were one and the same), so it was fantastic to finally see the locations where these events were set. Caz has a wealth of knowledge ranging from the Neolithic age to the present, and is obviously still passionate about her vocation. We were more than happy with her guiding, the accommodation (new wing in the Ayre Hotel) was great and the three day tour for just the two of us was the highlight of our trip to the UK. We were especially glad not to be on the 52-seat tour buses going the other way! Highly recommended.
Visited June 2011
Three of us spent a fabulous day with Caz. We only had three days in Orkney & wanted to learn a lot ,quickly! So we booked a full day with Caz & weren't disappointed. Caz took us to wonderful sites & she was a perfect guide: full of knowledge, interested & excited about the stories behind the artifacts, & able to give us more information than we could ever remember! Perfect! We were especially interested in the way people might have lived & Caz tailored our day so we saw all the pertinent areas. It was a bonus to be on our own with such an educated & personable guide who could give us a specific and wonderful day on a fabulous island. Visited April 2011
We signed up with Caz to do a week's tour of the fantastic archaeology of Orkney, and Caz delivered beyond expectations. We saw almost every major site, and being a practicing archaeologist, Caz was able to provide us with a great deal of information. She was also quite willing and able to discuss many facets of Orkney life today. Altogether a great pleasure to be with for five days.