Read the 2014 reviews of our tours

This was one of our favorite holidays, ever. The tour lasts a week, with lodgings and meals provided.

Caz, our guide, was knowledgeable about every site on the island. She had a thoughtful and informative answer to all of our questions. Orkney is the place for a non-archaeologist to get excited about archaeology- Sites range from the Neolithic (Skara Brae, Ring of Brodgar, Ness of Brodgar) to the Norse (as well as World War II sites).We went all over the Mainland and also had day trips to Rousay and Hoy. Caz provided excellent information about each place we visited, including context, history, archaeology uncertainties. She was prepared answer questions about anything, even geophysics Visited July 2014

 

Informative, entertaining, lively, impeccable organisation, detailed local knowledge and a very high level of professional expertise: it was the most enjoyable guided tour of the mysteries of Orkney, from the Neolithic to WW2. Thank you to Dave for all of the above plus safe driving and deft handling of the needs of all the group members. A week is not long enough! Visited October 2014

 

We spent three days with Dave Laurence visiting the major sites in Orkney. Dave is an extremely knowledgeable and expert guide and with an infectious enthusiasm for his subject. We could not have enjoyed it more. Visited September 2014

 

Could not fault Caz in any way, provided everything we need and has excellent knowledge of the islands even managed to arrange dry, sunny weather. To be highly recommended Visited 2014

 

We wanted our first visit to Orkney to give us as wide experience of the islands as possible in a week and this tour led by Caz was perfect. Good hotel, interesting itinerary, excellent organisation even providing little extras like hard hats, knee pads and walking poles for various explorations underground or up and down hills. Caz had enormous knowledge of the history, archaeology and way of life on Orkney, all presented in a memorable and entertaining way. Visited September 2014

 

This tour is exceptionally well-organized, interesting in scope and informed by a high-level of professional knowledge on the part of the organizers. The small group size provides for both friendly interactions and opportunities for one-on-one discussions with guides and other personnel. The breadth of sites visited was diverse and impressive. It was great to be centred in comfortable accommodation for a full week rather than moving every couple of days and to make daily site visits to different parts. The food was great and general service was of an extremely high calibre. I couldn't recommend this tour more. Visited July 2014

We took part in the Orkney Adventure tour in May 2014, and it exceeded all our expectations. There are a vast number of archaeological sites on the islands and you could find them yourself, but having a professional archaeologist as a guide was a huge advantage. Dave was very knowledgeable about all the sites from neolithic to Second World War and his insights really helped us to understand how the different sites related to each other. We were particularly impressed by how he communicated the limits of what can be known. Many people in the tourism industry are happy to spin stories and pretend that there is a clear known answer to what these sites represent. Dave would let us know the various theories but always came back to the limits of what we can actually know about a site that is thousands of years old. From a logistics standpoint the trip was very well organized. Our days were full but it never felt like too much. The food at the Ayre Hotel was good (and the portions very ample!) and the lunches were very enjoyable. Overall we found this trip was excellent value for money and we would recommend it without reservation. Visited May 2014

 

This was an excellent trip. Myself and a friend booked months in advance and got the last 2 spots on this trip. We had a brilliant time and learnt a huge amount. The balance between car travel and site visits was really well thought out and each day we looked forward to the planned visits. Our group was fortunate enough to be there during Puffin season and Caz went out of her way one day to take us to a site where we were able to lay on the cliff top and watch puffins from not very far away. The various different sites and archaeology periods were all exciting and interesting. Caz is a wealth of knowledge on all things Orkney but if there was a question she wasn't able to answer she was honest and said so. Usually the following day we were given an answer and it was obvious that Caz had done some research overnight. Meals were brilliant. Lunches in the local pubs and hotels were filling and fresh. Making excellent use of local produce and giving us a small taste of traditional fare. The van/bus is well designed and set out so all people can see well and through the use of a microphone and speaker system we were all able to hear Caz and her witty commentary. I am no athlete but am generally quite physically fit and had no trouble with any of the short walks we did. There were a few people on our trip who were older than me (56) and they also had little trouble. I would fully recommend this trip to anyone with an interest in archeaology. Well worth the early booking and the price is quite good for the quality of the trip. Thanks Caz for a wonderful week. Visited July 2014

 

A wonderful experience which lived up to all expectations and gave a great overview of prehistoric Orkney and more. Dave was an excellent guide, highly knowledgeable and professional, with everything planned to perfection. You get a chance to visit the main historical sites on the Mainland and Rousay, ranging from Scara Brae and the ongoing dig at the Ness of Brodgar to the Italian Chapel, the Scapa Flow Naval Museum and a Martello Tower. Several are not open to the public or are not reachable by the larger tours. The maximum group size is 8 and accommodation is in the good standard Ayre Hotel, where the full a la carte dinner menu is included every night. The days are full, but don't involve much effort and we never felt rushed, with ample time to explore each site and all our questions discussed. The lunches were a particular delight, with home made soups, sandwiches and cakes in carefully chosen hotels/restaurants. One minor improvement would be if Dave or Caz were to join the group on the first night to introduce themselves and the tour, but otherwise no complaints. Visited August 2014

 

The small tour in a vehicle which could go where larger vehicles could not go, the small group of congenial people with like interests, and above all the expert local guide, made this the perfect tour for me. Caz was knowledgeable, interesting, considerate, and managed to keep us all on schedule without seeming to rush us. We saw a wide range of sites and learned a lot as we went. I travelled with an assistance dog and received every possible accommodation from Caz. She even supplied us with a dog bed, blankets, towels and kibble to save all that weight on the flight. All the wheels were greased for us, the hotel was excellent, and this was a very special holiday for me and my travelling companion. Orkney was on our "bucket list" and we are both deeply interested in history. Visited May 2014

 

If you are interested in Archaeology you must go on this tour. There is so much to see in Orkney you need an expert to guide you through, give you privileged access and explain what you see. Dave's supreme knowledge, his relationship with Archaeologists working on site, and his ability to convey his love of the subject made this an exceptional experience. Hotel / Travel / Eating arrangements were smooth and well thought out. A fantastic week! Visited August 2014

 

We loved the tour with Dave Lawrence. Could not be faulted for friendliness, academic excellence, comfort and privileged access experiences. Would not hesitate to recommend them to anyone who wants to engage with the history and mystery of wonderful Orkney. Visited 2014

 

The small group tour I took last week was spectacular. My reason for going was to see the excavations at the Ness of Brodgar. But Caz widened my horizon and provided informative and fun facts and narration regarding the many sites we visited covering Orkney's history from the Neolithic to World War II. Her obvious concern about giving us the facts as well as interesting highlights and sidelights about Orkney, and her knowledge of Orkney's place in history helped to make this both an educational and a fun learning experience. The wide variety of backgrounds of the other group members simply added another dimension to the tour and the hours sharing meals and conversation. Visited July 2014

 

For all six of us, three couples in our sixties and early seventies, this trip exceeded our already high expectations. Dave, our knowledgeable and friendly guide, steered us around Neolithic chamber tombs, stone circles and villages, into Iron Age subterranean structures and to Pictish brochs. We saw the remains of Viking houses and halls, inscribed runes, Kirkwall's wonderful Romanesque Cathedral, Medieval and Stuart palaces, and military fortifications from the Napoleonic period, as well as taking in the importance of Orkney as a naval base in the two World Wars. Our minibus transport was comfortable, and although we travelled and saw a lot in six days, we never felt rushed, and our safety was always our guide's priority. The Ayre Hotel was clean and friendly, with excellent food. For five of the days a warm sun shone on Orkney's stunning scenery. We even saw puffins perched on the cliffs. Altogether a memorable experience. Visited July 2014

 

 

We have just returned from a fantastic week with Orkney Archeology Tours. It was brilliant to have an archeologist leading the small group, taking us in a very comfortable minibus to many of the best archeological and historical sites, and explaining them in an informative and entertaining way, offering insight and discussion that you don't get in the guide books. For me one of the highlights was a visit to two live digs and a chance to see sites being excavated and hear about what they had found. Caz and Dave have carefully thought about the needs of their customers and make a very professional job of meeting them. The accomodation at the Ayre Hotel was good and the soup and sandwich lunches were excellent. It helped that the weather was fine all week but I am sure we would have enjoyed it enormously anyway. Orkney is a beautiful place to start with, and the tour really brought its complex history to life. Visited July 2014

 

Lead by Caz, who every question she was asked from the archaeology, heritage, natural history to local infra-structure - she could give an educated answer. Excellent organisation for the whole week as well. As for Orkney - what a stunning place. I was overwhelmed with the archaeology and coming from Cornwall I have seen a lot. Visited July 2014

I traveled with Orkney Archaeology Tours in June 2014. It was an amazing experience. The tour was expertly run by Caz, an Orkney native who is earning her PhD in archaeology. She seems to know everyone in the islands and she tells stories about the local history (ancient and recent) every step of the way. She took us to sites that are off-limits to the public because she "knows the farmer" who owns the land and has a key to the gate. I was traveling alone from the United States, but I felt totally comfortable joining a tour group of 7 other people, who were all very nice (although much older than me!). The hotel is comfortable and serves excellent meals (all included in the tour price) with a breakfast buffet and generous 3-course dinner every night with many selections. The daily lunches of sandwiches and soup were lovingly crafted by various local cafe owners, and they cared very much about accommodating my lactose intolerance. We saw all the highlights of Orkney in six adventurous days. I crawled through Neolithic tombs, lay down in the Dwarfie Stane, walked in the ruins of Iron Age brochs, and took 900 pictures. What more can I say? My one complaint was that I could have packed even more into each day, but given the average age of the tour-goers, I can see why it's arranged the way it is. The tour is well worth the expense! I can't imagine seeing Orkney any other way. Visited June 2014

 

I really can't add to what other reviewers have said about this tour. I wasn't sure what to expect but whatever expectations I did have were more than exceeded. Everything was beautifully planned and organised, the hotel was excellent ( especially the food), Dave was the most informative leader I have come across, but wore his learning lightly so that no-one felt unable to contribute to any discussion of what might have been going on in neolithic times. The range of sites visited was wonderful and for me the small underground spaces we squeezed into in twos and threes had more magic than the bigger sites where all the tourists go. Dave's enthusiasm for Orkney was also infectious - the scenery is magical and lovely in a quiet way. Even the weather was not too bad, though the wind is always cool. Thanks again for a great week. Visited June 2014

 

We have just returned from our Orkney Archaeology Tour, 7 days of stimulating visits and discussion, which was brilliant - and some! The sites were fascinating, and having access to Dave's expertise and willingness to share his knowledge and ideas made the whole week a real success. Breathtaking views, incredible insights, amazing access to unique Neolithic sites plus great hotel, food and company - this all made it a memorable trip. The island life works its magic and was especially helped for us by local music evenings in Kirkwall, involving all ages and stages of musicianship. The week's itinerary is excellently varied, well planned and geared to all levels of knowledge and interest. The small group approach works well. We stayed a couple of extra nights and enjoyed some time in Kirkwall and a trip to Westray, which added to our feeling that we must return to this group of islands again sometime soon. Visited June 2014

 

Entering dark Neolithic tombs, imagining pillaging Vikings at home, spotting brochs under every other mound, hearing stories from the Orkneyinga saga and about the nasty Stewarts; Dave gave us a wonderful tour and shared his vast knowledge and enthusiasm for both archaeology and Orkney. The trip exceeded all my expectations and I can't recommend it highly enough. Visited 2014

 

 

This holiday exceeded my expectations. It was very well organised, the hotel was excellent with friendly staff and good food, and the information provided by our guide, Caz, was very thorough and tailored to the right level for our group. And the weather was warm and dry! Visited 2014

 

This was a superb holiday. I had a little knowledge of prehistory so visiting the ancient sites was so stimulating. The trip spread beyond the Neolithic and we went to Lyness and the Corrigall Museum - and it was all interesting. Did it rain? - well, maybe, but who notices that when we are so absorbed in our subject! Caz is a marvellous - and enthusiastic - and knowledgeable - guide - her commitment to prehistory and Orkney makes you too wish you could live there. It was also good to stop at lunch time for delicious soup and sandwiches and cakes at a different venue each day. And then we returned to our hotel where we could feast on the varied menu each evening. Despite all this lovely food I am amazed (and delighted) to find I have not gained any weight (there is a reassurance for any would-be travellers!). I especially appreciated that Caz was spot on with her timing - both at the beginning and end of each day. Finally, just to say the vehicle was always spotlessly clean and very comfortable. Thank you so much Caz. Visited May 2014

 

About 50 years ago I visited the Orkney and enjoyed it very much and have frequently referred to that trip to my wife. We had booked onto a trip organised by a club I belong to in the Shetlands, and I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to add on a visit to the Orkney so that my wife could experience what I had all the those years ago. I knew there were guided tours of the archaeological sites of Orkney, which are among the best in the UK and wanted the day to butt-up to the Shetland visit. I found Caz, but unfortunately, this was the one day in the week that Caz takes off - it is currently the hectic period for them - and I can understand (now) the need for this day. However, she very kindly agreed to do it for us, and what a day it was too! Collected from our hotel at 9.0 am and driven round the main places on mainland (which basically includes the World Heritage area) with a continuous commentary of what we were seeing (archaeological or not). But it was not just that we were taken to the sites and they were explained to us. We were given a detailed view of the various theories that had come and gone and were current today. This was extremely interesting and does not simply come out of a book, it is a result of years of study and reflection. And we had the benefit of it all! Visited May 2014

We had a bespoke tour with Caz visiting most of the main sites on the mainland. It was an excellent day - very well paced and well balanced. It was extremely informative and really helped deepen our understanding of the various phases of Orkney's development. It was also good fun - the lunch spot was well chosen and the van was very comfortable. Visited April 2014

 

Having arranged a trip for a group of seven, we got Caz to take us round for two days. She was excellent. Well informed, funny and very willing to adapt plans to suit the varied ages and abilities. Really excellent service. Visited March 2014

 

We’re just back from the first week’s tour of 2014. Caz has emerged from her winter hibernation in great form. I won’t repeat the many good things that others have said on Tripadvisor: all the praise is well deserved. Let me try to add one or two new points. First, as a couple one of us has a much deeper interest in archaeology than the other. We needn’t have worried that one might be bored. Caz’s programme mixes in broader aspects of history and geography etc so that everyone gains something. Her interpretation of the archaeology brings the whole thing to life. Second, we hadn’t anticipated such an international group. Having merely travelled up from southern England we were among the ‘locals’! You can look forward to very interesting company from around the world.Third, we particularly enjoyed the trips to the islands of Hoy and Rousay, as well as touring the Orkney mainland. They gave us a real sense of place. If we were starting again we’d consider an additional few days’ side-trip to stay on another island. The Ayre Hotel makes an excellent base that I have reviewed separately. Overall this was a wonderful introduction to a fascinating part of the UK that we’d never seen before. Thank you again, Caz. Visited May 2014

Click here to read our 2013 reviews

Orkney Archaeology Tours, 

Bayview, Birsay, Orkney, KW17 2LR  

VAT Reg. No. 107 1132 67   info@orktours.co.uk