2015 Reviews of our tours

Arranged as a private tour to coincide with the Solar Eclipse our small international group - which varied in size over the 2 years we planned the trip with the company - all found the experience humbling, uplifting and enjoyable. While our initial interest was with the neolithic Caz's story telling skills soon had us all enthralled with events from the Orkney's Norse Sagas and events around both World Wars as they affected the islands. Being disabled I found Caz a great help as she refused to deny me the opportunity to see Unstan and Maeshowe. Knee pads were provided so I could crawl into Unston, Caz pulled me through to Maeshowe on a borrowed wheelchair and at Skara Brae she had arranged for use of a mobility scooter. Wisely she judged I would not be up to a walk along the causeway to Birsay Brough, but all other sites were accessible with patience and Caz's assistance. Our itinerary was arranged to ensure we enjoyed the early morning eclipse at the Ring Of Brodger which was "atmospheric" - to say the least. Each day's programme was well planned with suitable stops and refreshments when needed and Caz not only informed us as we travelled but also was returned the next day with researched information on any questions we had asked that she did not have the answers to at the time - such as the tonnage of a specific ship anchored off shore nearby! Given the relatively remote location, Orkney will probably be a "once in a lifetime" destination for most of us - we are so glad that we got to experience it in the company of Orkney Archaeological Tours. Visited March 2015

 

I took a one-day private tour with Caz as my guide. It was just what I had intended - an intense introduction to the prehistoric archaeology from a very knowledgeable archaeologist with specialist expertise. Orkney is a fascinating place and this tour was the perfect way to start. Both Orkney and Orkney Archaeological Tours highly recommended. Visited April 2015

 

An archaeological tour in a remote but very accessible part of the world is what my wife put on her bucket list. After investigating the options, we chose Orkney Archaeology Tours. Everything about the tour was professional and exceptional. Caz and Dave are archaeologists who know their stuff. In the early stages of planning, Caz was very patient with our endless questions and helped us pick the tour that suited us best. She booked us at the Ayre hotel with it's congenial owners and staff and paced each day perfectly. It was a delight to hear an archaeologist's perspective on each site we visited, but Caz was also very knowledgeable about the flora and fauna of the area and of Orkney's long and engaging history. It was a wonderful two days. Visited April 2015

We took the one week tour the first week of May 2015 - cold, wet, rainy and windy, but a GREAT adventure anyway. The company was great and Dave was full of information not only at the sites we visited but as we were driving along. All the historical and archeology information was excellent, but don't quiz me on any of it. Dave was a great guide. I recommend this trip to anyone interested in the past. Visited May 2015

 

This was an outstanding tour taking in the very best of Orkney’s archaeological sites. Caz brought these bygone times to life with her in-depth knowledge and love of early history. The itinerary was varied, well organised and thoughtfully put together; it was a thoroughly enjoyable week. Visited May 2015

We were part of a tour group in mid-May 2015 and has a great tour. Caz was one of the best guides we’ve had anywhere in the world and her range of knowledge of Orkney is amazing. She picked key sites for us to visit and gave us a range of all the sites in Orkney. The tour size (maximum 8 guests) was just right and the organisation perfect. The weather lived up to expectations. The pre-tour information states “Please ensure you have warm and waterproof clothing with you each day” and we needed it all. If you go to Orkney, don’t skimp on windproof clothing. Visited May 2015

 

In May 2015 I took the one week tour of many of Orkney's archaeological sites with Orkney Archaeological Tours and with Dave as our Archaeologist/guide. It was a wonderful and interesting tour and was well planned in order for us to see and experience as much as possible in that week from ancient times through to the importance of the Orkneys during the two world wars. Ferries from one Island to another were part of the tour too. Dave had stories to tell at each of the sites and also while travelling from one to the other. There was plenty of time at each place in order to view the sites and to take in the ambience. The weather was very windy most of the time with occasional sunshine and rain. I found the wind to be a bit tiring and at the end of the day had muscles aching that I had forgotten I had! I think that a reasonable level of fitness is required but you don't have to be super fit for this trip. Wet weather gear is essential, in fact, if you take the tour ensure that you follow the instructions from Dave's company as to what to wear and bring. The 9 seater vehicle was very comfortable and surprisingly roomy. We each changed seats daily so that all people got the front seat at some stage of the tour. All the places that we stopped at for lunch offered us very good food, soup, sandwiches, cake, tea and coffee, and there was plenty of it. The Ayre Hotel in which we stayed was also excellent. The rooms are compact but adequate which is usual for the UK and it had an ensuite, TV and tea making facilities. There was a lounge area on the ground floor where you could sit and read a paper. Rooms were nicely furnished and with a sea view. We had the whole menu to choose from for the evening meal and again the meals were really nice with very generous servings! The staff at all the places we visited whether for lunch or at the hotel, were very friendly and obliging at all times. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and very well run by Dave and Caz. I certainly recommend the tour for anyone that has an interest in ancient and more modern history. This tour will stay in my memory and in my pictures for many a year to come. Visited May 2015

 

Orkney Archaeology Tours are extremely well organised and very professional. The pre-holiday information is very helpful: do take the advice given and go equipped with hat, scarf and gloves as well as waterproof clothing. Extra things like knee pads and hard hats are handed out as necessary. The daily program was varied and well timed: we saw everything promised. Caz, our guide was outstanding. Visited May 2015

 

We just completed an archaeology tour with our guide Cas. The 6 day tour was excellent with a combination of archaeology and local history on numerous islands. I could not recommend it more. A great holiday. Efficient, helpful information beforehand gave me high hopes, which were fully justified. Wonderful guide, very professional, so full of information about all the sites and telling us about life on Orkney. The hotel and places where we had lunch did us well. Caz paced it for those of us of mature age, and looked after us with care and a light touch. Brilliant to see so many archaeological sites in six days. I would highly recommend this holiday for people with this interest. Visited June 2015

 

Orkney Archaeology Tours provided an extremely well organised tour which catered to a variety of knowledge and tastes. Despite the mixed weather (thanks to forewarning on sensible clothing) we had a grand time, visited fascinating sites, enjoyed a variety of land- (and sea-)scapes, met interesting like-minded folk and ate lots of wonderful home-made cake! Great touring vehicle that offers good views from all seats and Dave was a top notch knowledgeable guide. Visited May 2015

 

We were provided with excellent information about the coming week upon checking in to the hotel. The tour covered high profile sites we knew about from television as well as many amazing places we had never heard of. Windproof, waterproof, warm clothing is a must. As very senior citizens we were well cared for and had no problems accessing the sites or coping with the terrain. Our guide was Caz, an experienced archaeologist who lives in Orkney and is involved in her community. She readily answered all our questions about the sites and life on Orkney and provided a well organised and balanced holiday experience that we will always treasure. And we saw puffins! Visited June 2015

 

I highly recommend this fantastic tour. Caz our guide shared her extensive archaeological and local knowledge with the group. The tour was well planned with an interesting itinerary and well chosen lunch venues during the day. I was happy with the accommodation and enjoyed the food and company of the other members of the group at the hotel each evening. Visited June 2015

 

We just finished the 6 day Archeology tour and had a fantastic time. Caz, our tour guide for the week, was very knowledgeable, organized, and experienced. She answered all sorts of questions - not only about the sites, but other tidbits of information about the Orkenys, while we were traveling from site to site. The sites ranged from Neolithic to 20th Century. We got a real appreciation of the depth of history that exists in the Orkneys during the tour. We initially signed up, to see sites like Skara Brae, and the Stones of Stenness. But each day revealed more and more interesting history beyond those two well known sites. I really liked the mix of Neolithic, Iron Age, Norse, etc. All meals were included, which made our other expenses negligible. The only down side was that we got a bit tired of the hotel restaurant offerings. Lunches were delicious - sandwiches, soup, coffee/tea and sweets. Visited June 2015

 

Every aspect of this excellent week has been carefully thought out to provide a fascinating introduction to the archaeology and history of Orkney. David, the guide for our week was an absolute mine of information and filled in 'downtime' while driving between sites with a masterly account of the Orkneysaga. Perhaps the best recommendation Is that my wife, who has not previously been keen on archaeology, was captivated by the experience of being guided by a professional. The Aire Hotel presents comfortable no-frills accomodation in an excellent situation overlooking the harbour. My only complaint was that a Scottish hotel really could do better for Marmalade (Golden Shred, and shredless at that). If you have any interest in Orkney and its history and archaeology this week is unmissable. Be sure to book early and if you are planning to fly buy tickets as soon as they are released because they quickly become expensive. Although the tour itself may seem costly everything if found and the only extra is your bar bill. It is worth every penny. Visited June 2015

 

We had the pleasure of 6 days in the company of Caz in June. My wife and I had never been on a led tour before and were slightly anxious about what it was going to be like to be in the same company for the best part of a week. It was outstanding. This was due to entirely to Caz. Although not a native she has certainly "gone native" in the 15 years (I think) that she has spent on the Islands. Her knowledge about the archaeology was impressive, but the tour took a broader perspective than the very ancient. We visited a working mill, a charming museum, and several other really interesting WWII sites and at every one Caz knew the places and the people that worked in them. She was a really attentive leader, making sure that we were fed and watered, looking out for our safety, and our bladders, to the point that it felt like being back in Junior School, but in a really nice, looked after way. I could not recommend her company or this tour highly enough. Visited June 2015

 

I rarely give five stars as I am critical but Orkney Archaeology Tours deserve six. My wife was a professional archaeologist with a passion for the neolithic period and gives full marks for Caz's professionalism, knowledge and presentation. Caz;s extensive knowledge and enthusiasm made 5000 year old ruins seem alive and her explanations were easy for a layman like my self to understand yet detailed enough for my archaeologist wife. Value for money, full marks plus. Highly recommended. Visited July 2015

 

A splendid holiday I would recommend to anyone with an interest in archaeology, history, or just the beautiful Orkney Islands. Crawling into a neolithic tomb, or exploring the astonishing monuments in the landscape of Brodgar and Stenness, are experiences impossible to forget. Visits to places from later times, like the cathedral, or the museum at Scapa Flow, added variety. David, our tour guide, was full of knowledge and a great explainer. Comfortable hotel, excellent lunches, agreeable company, and we were even reasonably lucky with the weather (but it does rain, and it does get windy). This was a holiday to relish, and relish it we did. Visited July 2015

 

The week certainly fulfilled our expectations - the itinerary was thoughtfully designed, managed with flawless efficiency and illuminated throughout by formidably well-informed and articulate commentary. The accommodation was very comfortable (the hotel staff were very obliging) and the food generously proportioned, including the tasty lunches of soup, sarnies and cakes. Apart from her impressively extensive historical/archaelogical/local knowledge, our guide, Caz, was highly attentive to our every need and acutely sensitive to any health and safety issues. We have no hesitation in recommending this tour. Visited July 2015

 

My wife and I have just returned from a six day, guided tour of Orkney and there are not enough stars in the rating system to show what a fabulous week it was. Our guide, Caz, was a thoroughly professional and engaging host and her detailed knowledge of the sites, history and pre-history of Orkney brought to life the Neolithic, the iron age and the Viking eras. There was even the opportunity to examine Orkney’s military history from the Napoleonic to the First and Second World Wars – and to meet a man from the 95th Rifles! The tour was well organised and allowed just the right amount of time at each location before being transported to the next wonder of the ancient world. Lunches were provided at a range of establishments and were universally excellent – the Orkney Cheesecake stunned us all! Food and accommodation in the Ayres Hotel was excellent and the staff were so helpful and kind. If you have a certain level of fitness, an interest in the ancient world and a good set of waterproofs this is the trip of a lifetime. Visited July 2015

 

My wife and I have just returned from a six day, guided tour of Orkney and there are not enough stars in the rating system to show what a fabulous week it was. Our guide, Caz, was a thoroughly professional and engaging host and her detailed knowledge of the sites, history and pre-history of Orkney brought to life the Neolithic, the iron age and the Viking eras. There was even the opportunity to examine Orkney’s military history from the Napoleonic to the First and Second World Wars – and to meet a man from the 95th Rifles! The tour was well organised and allowed just the right amount of time at each location before being transported to the next wonder of the ancient world. Lunches were provided at a range of establishments and were universally excellent – the Orkney Cheesecake stunned us all! Food and accommodation in the Ayres Hotel was excellent and the staff were so helpful and kind. If you have a certain level of fitness, an interest in the ancient world and a good set of waterproofs this is the trip of a lifetime. Visited July 2015

 

Dave Lawrence, with his knowledge and enthusiasm, made this the trip of a lifetime. The past came to life, and death in the tombs, with compelling clarity. The balance of the very old...Stennis and Brodegar...and the somewhat new...Scapa and the Martello tower... and everything between painted a historical picture of a place I had only read about. Now I have lived there, albeit briefly, and will never forget standing at the bottom of Mine Howe or feeling the chill of the wind and rain at Midhowe broch. I would recommend this tour to anyone with a yen to learn about the past. I would like to return one day. Visited July 2015

 

Every aspect of the tour package has been carefully thought out to provide a stress-free introduction to the archaeology and history of Orkney. Accommodation and meals are included in the tour so you only have to meet the van in the morning for that day's activities. It's brilliant - the reason you are there is for the archaeology, you shouldn't have to worry about the other stuff especially after an energetic hike to the various sites and places. David, our guide and the other half of the David-Caz team that runs these tours, was an absolute fountain of information and filled in 'downtime' while driving between sites with a masterly account Orkney's history from prehistoric to present day. The fact that David and Caz are both working archaeologists that live and work in Orkney can't be underestimated in making this the best tour package of it type in the Orkneys. Visited June 2015

 

Amateur archaeology in the UK is a passion for my wife and I and we make numerous trips both on our own as well as guided tours like this. I can honestly state that this has been the best of it's type we have had the pleasure of being part of and highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in the field and in the Orkneys.A few comments on the accommodations and travel arrangements: Orkney and it's islands is a really small place (about 20,000 residents) with some pretty extreme weather. Due to the increasing popularity of the Orkneys it is a huge challenge to find accommodation at the hight of the season. Getting too and from is a challenge as well as the weather can easily cause travel disruptions. If you are going on this tour you really have to stay on the Main Island due to the many islands the tour covers which in turn limits the choices to two hotels, one of which has very limited space and considerably more expensive. My advise would be to discuss your preferences with Caz or David who are not only knowledgeable on all of this but also know everyone that operates literally everything. If you book early - as in a year in advance (and well worth it) - you may have some greater leeway in arranging something personalized to your tastes. We stayed at the Ayre Hotel and absolutely loved it and the people that ran it were absolutely fabulous. We could literally ask to change or customize anything and they would accommodate it with no complaint. The price was also one of the best considering the included meals and sea-front room that we've had in a long time but like anything else it depends what you are used to. As previously noted we do a lot of this stuff and have been in some really off the grid places - the Ayre (as well as anything that Caz or David would recommend) are pretty spectacular all things considered. About travel to and from - there are a lot of choices between ferry and air. Just keep in mind that the weather can change in an instant (fog, wind, rain) which can delay your flights or sailing so make sure that you allow plenty of flexibility if you have onward connections. It's also a fact that the most popular air routes sell out almost as fast as they become available, but there a range of alternatives with good availability and good discounts if you take the time to look for them. Visited June 2015

 

This should be a must tour for anyone interested in human (pre)history and beautiful places! Dave, our archeologist guide, compressed 7,000 years into a most enjoyable and rewarding 7 days, yet we only visited a fraction of the known Orkney sites. No prior experience is necessary to enjoy this trip (but bring a healthy curiosity); Dave convinces one that your ideas are often as good, sometimes better, than those of the learned archeologists. The accommodations and food were excellent - plan on putting on a few pounds! Our fellow tour guests also were a delight. We spent a few delightful days in the Shetland Islands afterwards and appreciated their sites much more from all we learned from Dave. Visited July 2015

 

Saying this was an excellent tour is a massive understatement! I have always been interested in history and archaeology and thoroughly enjoyed this. But you don't have to have a lot of knowledge about Orkney to enjoy this trip, as Dave filled us in on all of the local history and site information as he guided us. I have rarely been so inspired! Dave was incredible! His knowledge is endless on the history of each site we went to, as well as general local history and information. He inspired our entire group every day! Our group met for dinner at the Ayre hotel (another excellent place!) every night and discussed the things we saw and learned each day. Dave covered the history of Orkney and each of the sites to encompass the last 5,000+ years of history. Dave has a unique approach, as he first tells you what is known about the sites, then asks for your ideas, views, and theories. I spent another week in Scotland after this tour and found myself looking at other sites with a whole new perspective. Dave made this the experience of a lifetime for me! Visited August 2015

 

Who on earth would climb 25 feet straight down into a black, wet, threatening hole in the rock?”You would if you were on an archeology tour of the Orkney Islands with David, one of two archaeologists who run Orkney Archaeology Tours.Mine Howe is an example of sites that illustrate once again how capable earlier people were at planning and building. It also is a place where one can experience, because of the threatening nature of the shaft, a sharing of what ancient people may have felt while climbing down into the blackness below them.We didn't know before this tour that Orkney is literally covered with archaeological sites, most of them not yet studied. David has a great depth of knowledge of things Orkney,a great enthusiasm and good humor in presenting it. All in all, a great tour guide.

We plan to go back one day to refresh our souls with all things Orkney. Visited August 2015

 

Our week in the beautiful lush isles of Orkney was a archeological journey back in time, when history was unwritten, but clues have been discovered about early life and how we got to where we are now. The vast knowledge and experience of our professional tour guides Caz and Dave provided an extensive background of how early man lived thousands of years ago, moving us through history in a hands on manner. The trips are well planned with excellent accommodations, comfortable transport, and the best food and ale in the realm of friendly Orkney. Its an enchanted place for sure. Highly recommended! Visited August 2015

 

When planning for this tour, I couldn't appreciate the high regard many reviewers had for this experience. It is clear this is a special activity, covering five millenia from the Neolithic to the present. Organization is top notch, all you have to do is get to Orkney with the appropriate clothes and this tour organization will provide everything else including hotel, 3 meals daily, and all transportation among the archeology sites. With the small group size (8 max), there is no difficulty getting your questions answered, you can walk at your own pace through the Orkney countryside; there are a few tight spaces and stone steps to negotiate if you like. My appreciation and understanding of archeology practices has greatly increased. The organizers are aware of cruise ship arrivals and schedule site visits at times without the hordes of buses. Caz and Dave are marvelous and accredited guides; their knowledge of the interrelationships of the sites in Orkney and other Scottish locations enables greater understanding of the Norse, Picts, and their ancestors. If you have any interest in archeology, I urge you to consider this tour. Visited August 2015

 

I went on this tour with very little knowledge of archaeology but was with others who knew quite a bit. Dave had an amazing way of educating those like me and further educating those who came to the Orkneys with some knowledge of the subject matter. We spent another two weeks after this tour traveling Scotland and Ireland but this was absolutely the highlight of the trip. Sign up early as they fill quickly! You won't regret it! Visited August 2015

 

The superlatives of previous reviewers are fully justified. A wonderfully rich experience. We enjoyed every moment and hope to return. Dave and Caz have thought of everything: warm, comfortable and friendly hotel, useful information pack and pleasant lunch venues. Visited September 2015

 

This was one of the best tours we have ever taken. Dave's knowledge and enthusiasm for his beloved subject was always apparent. He was turned in to the group's needs and answered questions readily and thoughtfully. Each day was well-planned downed to where the delicious lunches would be and bathroom stops! Information was given at an appropriate level (we were all somewhat knowledgeable) and it made for a rich and exciting day - every day. To be able to see and be in places I had read about and even taught about was an honor. So much was truly awe-inspiring. Visited September 2015

 

I visited Orkney with a specific objective: researching for a book I'm writing. I'd already done a fair amount of secondary research and needed a knowledgeable archaeologist to help me with my field research. I had booked a solo day tour since I had specific sites in mind that I wanted to visit. Dave was all that I needed for my research and more! Not only did he take me to all the sites that I needed to see first hand and patiently answered all my questions, but the value he added through his knowledge about the history and archaeology of the Orkney Islands was amazing. I got insights that I would never have acquired through a regular tour. I also appreciated that fact that he customised his briefing on every site to my research needs so that I got exactly what I was looking for. We spent the day discussing the history of the sites, different theories about why and how they were built and abandoned, and other such subjects. Never once did Dave hesitate to engage in a discussion and explain different perspectives, but he was very helpful in shaping some of my thoughts. Quite honestly, I had expected an archaeologist with his knowledge and experience to be a bit impatient with my questions and, perhaps, get offended when I challenged some of the accepted historical traditions, but he was amazingly forthcoming and open to everything that I threw at him. I had a great day and my biggest regret was that I did not have the time to stay longer. I will definitely be back, and this time, with my family! Visited October 2015

Click here to read our 2014 reviews

Orkney Archaeology Tours, 

Bayview, Birsay, Orkney, KW17 2LR  

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