Read the 2016 Reviews of our tours
Our tour guide Dave was highly professional and he organized an amazing weeklong tour. I've been on many tours throughout the world before, and this tour was by far the most informative and educational tour that I've ever been on, AND it was extremely interesting as well. Dave was extremely organized and helped to rearrange our schedule when a gale blew in and grounded the ferries. Despite the blustery weather, we were still able to see everything on the tour, thanks to Dave's quick response and local knowledge.
The centrally-located Ayre Hotel was quite comfortable, and had a wide assortment of delicious food every night. After a busy day of seeing sites, it was a welcome reprieve to come back to a tasty, warm meal every night. The main street in downtown Kirkwall is a quick 5-10 minute walk away, so you are always close to any shopping that you may want to do.
Every day of the tour was filled with unique glimpses into the tumultuous history of Orkney and the various peoples who lived there throughout history. From visiting ancient Stone Age settlements, up through the Viking invasions, and even fascinating World War sights, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Dave tried to provide a wide assortment of activities every day, so that we didn't get bored by seeing the same types of archaeological sites on a daily basis. We saw cairns, ring forts, stone circles, palaces, museums, and the active dig site of Ness of Brodgar. In addition to all the manmade sites, Orkney is a beautiful location where you can feel close to nature and her awesome power.
Travel is via a comfortable 8-person van (in addition to the driver, Dave) that got us to every location quickly -- small islands mean short travel times and more time to see the sites! And Dave is extremely educated and knowledgeable about all aspects of archaeology, with his own interesting insights and anecdotes added to the generally accepted histories available in books. Hearing his fascinating stories made the trip one of the best I have ever been on, and he was always available to answer any questions that we had. I cannot recommend anyone more highly than Dave and the Orkney Archaeology Tours company that he runs!! Visited August 2016
Most often waiting a long while to realize a dream leads to expectations so high they can only be dashed.. not this time. The islands were as beautiful and the sites as moving as I'd imagined. The thorough knowledge of my host was enhanced by his clear passion for this place; which I came to share.
Visited September 2016
To celebrate my 70th birthday in 2016 I booked a week in September with Orkney Archaeology Tours for myself and my husband. I am a North American archaeologist and my husband is a power engineer. The tour was superb and by far the best guided tour we have participated in and overall our 2 weeks in Scotland and Orkney will be remembered as the best holiday ever. I want to compliment Caz, our tour guide, for the organization of the tour, the excellent array of prehistoric and historic sites that were included, the hotel accommodations, and the wonderful meals. Coming from a landlocked Cdn prairie city we are always thrilled to ride on ferries and our flights between Orkney and Glasgow were largely done while the skies were clear so that we got to enjoy the landscapes below.
Visited September 2016
Definitely the best way to discover the Orkneys, there is so much to see and visit there that having a tour guide like Caz with all the knowledge she has on archeology but also on the islands in general is invaluable! The tour was extremely well organised with a very well balanced program each day, Caz took extremely good care of us and was able to answer all our questions :-) . Only watch out is that you will eat way too much cake during your stay there, from lunches in tea rooms and pubs across the island to the extensive selection at the Ayre hotel in the evening.
Visited September 2016
I chose Orkney Archaeology Tours because I had always had a hankering to see Skara Brae. I did see that, but so, so much more in the company of an excellent guide on the most skilfully organised tour I have ever participated in. The 8 of us were a slightly eclectic group, with different levels of expertise and interest, but the level of information provided worked for everyone. We were taken to the 'usual suspect' sites of Skara Brae, the Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Steness, but also visited tombs, houses and all sorts of other places which were obviously much less frequented but at least as interesting. We were given really expert information but invited to develop our own views and talk them through. Dave, our fabulous guide, was always happy to consider the most bizarre ideas (he did join in with the alien landing site interpretation discussion, but I have the teensiest suspicion he may not have been taking that one seriously ...) was so familiar with all the research and up to date with ideas and interpretations that he kept us seriously informed for the whole 6 days of the tour. As we travelled between sites, we were entertained with local information and folklore, and tales from the Orkneyinga Saga - now several of us are working our way through the Penguin version, as recommended by Dave, to find out just why everyone hated Earl Paul.
Each day was meticulously organised with all the kit we needed (very comfy knee pads) and everything ran smoothly. We turned up for lunch at local pubs or cafes and food was ready (just as good as everything else, especially the cakes), cruise ship crowds were avoided and site custodians very welcoming indeed. We all stayed at the Ayre Hotel (organised as part of the tour) where great care was taken to see that we were all comfortable, and very well fed indeed. On the day it rained (and rained, and rained ...) our soaked kit was taken and put in the boiler room overnight to recover, then all set out for us the next day.
Dave could not have taken more trouble to make sure we saw all we wanted to, and understood it too. From Neolithic tombs, villages and hedges to WWII naval sites and the moving Italian Chapel, we saw examples of the best Orkney has to offer. When we just couldn't get photos at Brodgar because of the rain, he took us back the next day in the sunshine to make sure we had our pictures just right.
I cannot recommend this tour too highly: I wish there was a follow-up week to go and climb down even more holes in the ground and imagine life over the past 5,000 years in such good company.
Visited September 2016
This 8-participant tour brought a delightful personal introduction to the history of Orkney archaeological sites. Caz and Dave, archaeologists who alternate weeks as tour guide, are long-term residents of the island. They share a wealth of local knowledge and stories along with brilliant insights into the thousands-of-years layers of history at this crossroads between the Norse and Celtic cultures. The small group size and great planning of the itinerary meant getting into (literally!) small neolithic sites and finding moments when no other tourists are around. A highlight was meeting the teams at the Ness of Brodgar archaeological dig, everyone cheerfully passionate about the site and finds being uncovered.
For the tour, all information is clearly provided ahead of time in the tour documents -- read carefully and follow the recommendations for clothes to bring. My tour started the first days in wind/rain gear with warm hats and gloves, then spent three days in shirt sleeves in warm sunshine, then the last day was back to hats & gloves. It was beautiful in all weather. Dress in layers and you're good to go! Plan for walking on uneven ground with a bit of up/down hill. There are a few sites that involve ladders and a low entrances -- not overly athletic, but a bit of flexibility is required.
The tour spends the week based at the Ayre hotel in Kirkwall -- great to unpack once and settle in -- then each day travels in a van to various sites around the islands. The hotel was a charming historic building on the harbor, the rooms pristine clean and all updated modern amenities with excellent WIFI and plumbing. The dinners at the hotel (included) were excellent featuring the best of the fresh local beef and seafood of Orkney. And ice cream! Must try the Orkney ice cream!
Everything about this tour was well-run and top quality as well as personable and fun!
Visited August 2016
This was a wonderful week. The basics were excellent - good admin and documentation in advance, a pleasant minibus, the best hotel rooms in Kirkwall, more food than we could manage for lunch, and the entire Ayre Hotel menu available in the evenings. The specifics were even better - a week with Dave who has his finger on the pulse of Orkney, and who guided us through the history and prehistory of the islands, shedding his knowledge as we went along. I especially liked his attitude to published accounts of the sites which he treated with often-deserved scepticism. If you’re thinking of doing this trip, just do it!
Visited August 2016
I happened to see the National Geographic article on the Ness of Brodgar this past spring, and knew I had to visit Orkney to see it. There was a cancellation with Orkney Archaeology Tours the day I visited the site, a rarity because they are usually booked 1 to 2 years in advance, and I jumped at the chance, since the company got such high reviews. It was a slam-dunk five ***** star ***** experience!
Caz, one of two professional archaeologists who lead the tours, was our leader on a 6-day tour throughout Orkney, the country with the most archaeological sites per square mile of any country. There were only 8 participants in the tour, which enhanced our experience many-fold, since we could have answered all our questions.
The zenith of the trip was the Ness of Brodgar. Being there in person was like witnessing ancient history unfold before our eyes. It's an active archaeological dig, discovered less than 10 years ago, and open for 6 to 8 weeks every summer, hindered only by funding.
The other sites we visited were also amazingly powerful, including Cuween, a site with an intact corbled roof, which we entered on our knees with the help of knee pads and rubber gloves; Mid Howe Cairn, a 100 foot-long ceremonial chamber you can view from above via a catwalk; Rennibister Earth House, a totally underground ceremonial space on a working farm; and Maes Howe chambered Tomb, replete with Viking runes as graffiti.
You will not be disappointed! Also, the Ayre Hotel, our place to eat and sleep daily, was Excellent, in terms of comfort and great food. Visited August 2016
Knowledgeable guides, well organised, everything done for you, great food. No complaints at all. But believe what they tell you about the weather and suitable clothing. Excellent guide for the archaeology/history enthusiast. A bit of scrambling/steep slopes involved so not suitable for those with significant mobility problems. Visited August 2016
I rate our Orkney Archaeological Tour as on of my best travelling experiences. It began with a personalised arrival pack, extended through accommodation and dining all the way through to archaeological expertise and access all brought together by superb organisation. Accommodation and food in the Ayre Hotel in Kirkwall was excellent and plentiful and the daily light lunches in local pubs and cafes were tasty and ample in quantity. Our guide, Caz, with her archaeological background and knowledge was a font of information and anecdotes, not just about the archaeology but also the history and folklore of Orkney. Caz's friendship with the site Director of the Ness of Brodgar allowed us entry behind the barriers for a personal explanation of operations and access to the "prettys" (the finds) denied the general public. The size of our group (maximum of 8) made for an interesting and stimulating time together. I would recommend this tour to anyone with an interest in the past, especially Neolithic times, and anyone willing to reflect on the family of mankind. Caz showed through the the tour that we have so much in common with both our ancestors and our contemporary neighbours. Visited August 2016
There is nothing to fault about this trip; hotel, food, organisation all perfect. But the holiday was so much more. Dave, our guide, brought Orkney's history to life as we visited sites which took us from the Neolithic to WW2. He debunked myths but had us spellbound by the islands' folklore. As an archaeologist he was crystal clear between fact and conjecture and gave our small group (only 8 on each tour) an accurate understanding of Orkney's history and how archaeology has helped... and hindered... achieving this. All the major sites are visited at the quietest times but in some ways the smaller places are just as impressive - especially when someone with so much knowledge is there to explain it all.
Visited August 2016
Great tour, all around. Caz is not only an expert on the archeology in Orkney, but she also knows the more recent history (last 1000 years) of the islands, and delivers it all with an entertaining sense of humor. Extremely well organized, with each day full without being rushed. The minibus used for transport to sites is unusually comfortable for a minibus, and the Ayre Hotel in Kirkwall was very comfortable accommodation with great food (all included with the tour plan). All around, great tour, great guide, and well worth the money.
Visited August 2016
For anyone with more than a passing interest in archaeology, this tour is probably the best option for discovering the Orkney's prehistoric wonders. A very well conceived itinerary that combines the 'star exhibits' like Skara Brae or Maes Howe with lesser known but equally fascinating sites, also beyond the Mainland. In addition to prehistory, Norse, medieval and modern (World War 1&2 naval history) sites are also well covered. A visit to the ongoing, exciting excavation at the Ness of Brodgar is also part of the tour during the dig season. Attention to detail and long experience of the organisers are evident not only in the site visits but also the routes and visiting times as well as the excellent quality of lunches and a la carte dinners, that are all included in the tour. The small, mini-van sized group is ideal for getting the most of every site, guided by a local archaeologist who is not only very up to date on the latest research, but also happens to know just about everyone on the islands. Visited August 2016
This was a great tour!! I learnt so much about Orkney's amazing archaeology and history from the prehistoric to more recent times from Caz who was an excellent and very knowledgeable guide. The six day tour was very well organised and I found the pace good for me. You need to prepared to do some walking over rough ground, crawling into tombs and climbing down a few ladders. The landscape is stunningly beautiful and I really enjoyed our trips to some of the islands. I thought the Ayre Hotel was first rate being very comfortable, the food excellent and the staff very helpful. Our group of eight got on very well and was a mix from Europe and the USA who shared a common interest in Orkney's archaeology. If you want to see the best of Orkney's archaeology, with an expert to explain what you are looking at, I recommend this tour.
Visited August 2016
We had a superb week despite some blustery Orkney weather, staying in the excellent and friendly Ayre Hotel. Dave our expert guide took us to a wide variety of Neolithic and other sites, stopping every day for a nice soup and sandwich lunch. Our group of eight, from the UK, the US and Germany, gelled well and the hotel food was good. Highly recommended!
Visited August 2016
This was a once in a lifetime trip for us. Caz is a great guide and had everything well planned. Be warned to expect some bad weather, amazing ruins, and 'cake' at every lunch. Visited August 2016
We had Dave Lawrence as our guide for six days of walks, talks, investigations, lunches, and came away with a basic understanding of the history of Orkney, its neolithic to Pic and then Viking past. Along with all this information, the beauty of the land, its people, and pride came through. This tour isn't for everyone as some more sedate couldn't participate, but for any age person who could walk a kilometer or two, Dave gave us a week we'll never forget and it has inspired us to even read the Orkneyinga Saga! Visited July 2016
I cannot praise Orkney Archaeology Tours too highly. This is not a whistlestop tour by someone reading out of a guidebook but an intensive exploration of this amazing place guided by an up to date professional archaeologist. The landscape and sheer quantity of sites will take your breath away but you'll get so much more out of it from a thorough explanation - even if no-one knows all the answers.....
All the major sites and many lesser known ones were packed into a well paced 6 day tour. Dave Lawrence explained everything carefully and discussed the latest interpretations. We also had time to visit a couple of ongoing excavations at Swandro and Ness of Brodgar (pick your dates carefully to coincide with these annual activities).
Only 8 people are on each tour so everyone could ask questions and get into the monuments. Mostly the physical demands are not great but anyone with real mobility issues should discuss them in advance.
The organisation was flawless and accommodation and catering were to a very high standard. Our group bonded well over the excellent meals, supplemented (at our own expense) with plenty of wine and Highland Park whisky! Orkney is easily reached by air or land transport despite being off the northern tip of Scotland. It is well worth the effort and, if you do, don't flit through like the cruise passengers but invest in a proper tour with the experts. You won't regret it! Visited July 2016
The Ring of Brodgar in the Orkney Islands is like seeing Stonehenge in its more primitive state. You get close up and can touch and study the stones. It was not crowded, even though we were with a tour group. The site seemed to instill a sense of quiet and awe in everyone. Not to be missed.
Visited July 2016
This has, without doubt, been the most fascinating, interesting and challenging week of my century. Every piece of praise written previously applies to this company, and more. The organisation, professionalism, friendliness and enthusiasm shown by Dave Lawrence was outstanding. Best trip ever!
Visited July 2016
I loved this tour and recommend it unreservedly. Caz was an excellent guide - friendly, knowledgeable, professional and extremely well organised. We had superb weather and hIghlights for me were Rousay and puffin watching. I was a solo traveller and easily integrated into our friendly group of eight. The accommodation at the Ayre hotel was also very good. I have two tips. First, dress appropriately - a list of essentials is provided before you go and you really will need those things. Second, I would stay in Orkney for another week after the tour. Perhaps move over to Stromness (gorgeous town), hire a car and travel to some of the outer islands or go back to your favourite places. I will definitely come back to Orkney. Visited June 2016
I had a really great week with Dave from Orkney Archaeology Tours. Small group, 8 people, really well organised - ferries, lunch, historic sites all perfectly on schedule without feeling as if we were a school group who had to be controlled, and a really professional commentary, by a local. So, not only really, really knowledgeable about the sites but also of the customs and people of Orkney. Fantastic. Visited July 2016
We loved every minute! Caz gave great background knowledge of many facets of the sites, ranging from 3000BC to WW2. Our vehicle comfortably held the 9 of us, and we took turns at the front, middle and back seats, enjoying the company of like minded individuals. We loved scrambling through dark tunnels into silent tombs, then seeing the rock work displayed for us. There is no way to describe the feeling of being in a structure that has been standing for 5000 years! Our range of travel had us on ferries to Hoy and Rousay, with extensive visits to the sites of most interest. Happily, we were able to see sites not on the usual bus tour.
Lunches were always delicious and welcome - we ate at 4 different restaurants, always with a choice of sandwiches, soup, cakes, coffee or tea. We stayed at the Ayre Hotel - our room was comfortable, with a wonderful harbor view. Breakfasts were the predictable "Full Scottish", but we were able to serve ourselves from the extensive buffet. Dinner menu was varied, showcasing local foods. We always enjoyed our meals, and the company of our group. It was a truly wonderful week, and we would love to see more on our next trip. Caz was a wonderful tour guide, knowledgeable and friendly. Her attention to detail was evident, making the trip go smoothly. Cannot recommend highly enough. Visited June 2016
I have just spent the most amazing week with the very knowledgeable Caz and 7 other lovely people being shown the highlights of Orkney history. I have been in Neolithic and Iron Age tombs, had standing stones interpreted and experienced the most fantastic scenery. It has been a wonderful introduction to this part of the U.K.
Visited June 2016
This is a fantastic trip around the amazing archaeology of the Orkney Islands. It has been carefully crafted so that it can be enjoyed by all, no matter what your level of understanding of archaeology. The itinerary was carefully arranged so that the major sites were not packed with people from the visiting cruise ships and many of the other sites were notable for their lack of visitors. Dave has an immense knowledge of the archaeology of the islands, in particular their prehistory and passes on his enthusiasm for the subject. One word of warning, be prepared to go on a diet on your return home, the lunches were all excellent and included soup, sandwich and home made cakes in some amazing locations plus the Ayre Hotel serves large portions of very good food. The hotel was spotlessy clean and the staff were very happy to help with any queries. The wildlife was also brilliant and included seals, puffins and a sea eagle. Don't hesitate to book this fantastic trip, it's worth every penny. Visited June 2016
A superb enjoyable holiday. A very professional organisation from initial contact through to the end of a really remarkable tour: well- planned visits to a wide variety of sites from neolithic to World War 2, above and below ground; well equipped, comfortable transport; plentiful and delicious soup and sandwich lunches; helpful and welcoming staff at good, well-appointed hotel. Caz is an exceptional tour operator and guide- knowledgeable, authoritative, patient and good humoured. She mixed archaeological information with fascinating insights into present day Orkney.
Visited June 2016
Orkney is a series of islands in north Scotland that have been inhabited for over 6000 years. The ruins and discoveries of tombs, burial mounds, houses, cities, and unknown structures will attract the hidden archeologist in all of us. Orkney Archeology Tours takes you into, through, on top of and under the land that has been used by neolithic peoples and all who followed. David Lawrence had superb expertise and said when he could not give us an answer.."we just don't know." The strategic location and milder climate of these islands for travellers from Scandinavia westward has made the Orkneys a home for millions over thousands of years. Come, walk through and see where and maybe how ancient peoples lived....before the pyramids and Stonehenge. Visited May 2016
Caz Mamwell's knowledge of neolithic, iron age and Viking history was amazing making the visits to the various sites specially interesting, The other good part of the week was that everything was included in the tour price, lunches, dinner, site entry fees etc. If you would like to visit and see Orkney this is the way to do it.
Visited June 2016
This was a remarkable week, we returned home with a completely different view of life in prehistoric times. Caz, who led the trip, was a very good guide, well organised with an encyclopedic knowledge of the sites we visited and Orkney life. Our hotel was very comfortable and the weather very kind to us! If you want to learn about life 4000 thousand years ago, this is the trip to take.
Visited June 2016
Just returned from a wonderful week on Orkney touring some fantastic archaeological sites under the guidance of the magnificent Caz. A small group (8) and a well informed guide made this an incredibly interesting and informative experience. The emphasis is on the Neolithic heritage of Orkney but visits include all periods, including Viking, mediaeval, first and second world war sites. The price includes half board at the excellent Ayre Hotel, lunches at various venues and transport all around Mainland, Rousay and Hoy. You need to be fairly fit as there is some rough walking and some tomb entrances require crawling or clambering down short ladders but my bad knee and I managed pretty well and Caz was always sympathetic and accommodating to slow walkers. Visited June 2016
Caz was brilliant - she gave us the background to the sites, explained a lot of the history of Orkney but at no point overloaded us with information. We had time to stop and look rather than always charging off to the next site. She also made sure we were well fed and watered - plenty to eat at lunchtime so no excuses for going hungry. The staff at the hotel she uses were always pleasant and helpful. I would certainly recommend Orkney Archaeology to anyone wanting to learn more about the islands.
Visited June 2016
wonderful informative holiday led by caz visits to great sites fully explained .Lots of different sites with visits timed to miss the crowds .Group size 8 just right .Plus soup sandwiches and cake for lunch .Loved every minute and came home with great respect for prehistoric man.
Visited June 2016
This was the first time I had been on an organised tour devoted to archaeology and I was most impressed. I learnt so much more than would have ever been possible on my own and relying on the guide books. It was great to have Dave as our guide as he is so uptodate with all the work that has been done in the Orkneys. All the arrangements for the week, food, hotel, minibus, knee pads! Etc all worked out very smoothly. Thank you for thinking of everything.
Visited May 2016
This tour was exactly what I was hoping for – and much more! Dave is extremely knowledgeable about the archaeology of Orkney and is directly involved in the research there himself. He provided excellent details as well as clear and meaningful overviews of what we were seeing, and he answered all our questions effectively. He told us a great deal about historical events as well as the prehistoric past; and he made this all relevant to what we were seeing. The mini-van had a good speaker so all could hear him. And his sense of humor added to our visit. The tour was very well organized, and he was so well informed of local events that he could make desirable adjustments to our plans that helped us both avoid large tour groups and understand current activities on the islands. I can't imagine a better, more inspiring and gratifying tour!
Visited May 2016
A visit to Orkney has been top of my Bucket List for years - so expectations were running high. This week-long visit arranged by Orkney Archaeological Tours fulfilled by dearest dreams. Caz Mamwell is an excellent guide, as familiar with neolithic and bronze age sites as she is with, say, describing the involvement of Orkney in the Second World War. Caz took us to the best spots to see puffins, skuas and otters, as well as ensuring the safety and cohesion of a disparate group. Superb tour, a full programme each day, great value for money. Visited June 2016
This was a top holiday for anybody remotely interested in archaeology. From 5000 years ago to the second world war and everything in between. Dave Lawrence is so knowledgeable and keeps you interested from the first journey in the very comfortable minibus. Everything is taken care of and done to a good standard or better. Orkney itself is much greener and a more agricultural landscape than we expected and the local people could hardly be more welcoming. We were so taken by it that I'm sure we'll go again. Visited May 2016
Going with a dedicated archeology tour meant that I visited the best sites and had them explained in context and saw other sites that other visitors would have missed. The planning was faultless with lovely hotel (I even had a sea view), brilliant stops for lunch with stunning scenery, comfortable transport and fellow travel companions who made the holiday so enjoyable. Oh, and it didn't rain once! Perfect! Visited May 2016
With four different locations which make up a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as many other archaeological locations, a trip to Orkney is not complete without a tour by an archaeologist. Orkney Archaeology Tours is the only tour company run by and guided by archaeologists both with advanced degrees. We took a private tour with Caz that covered the Neolithic Period through today. Having an archeologist as the tour guide is the only way to go. Caz’s knowledge of and presentation of each of the archaeological sites was outstanding. She made history come alive. We were never hurried as Caz spent as much time at each of the sites to answer all of our questions in detail. In addition her knowledge of every aspect of Orkney, its history, culture, people and everyday life added so much to our tour and understanding of this remarkable place. The hotel accommodations, meals and the van we travelled in were part of the package arranged for us by Caz and all were excellent. We highly recommend Orkney Archaeology Tours.
Visited April 2016
This is an excellent tour giving you the very best of Orkney's archaeology. Organisation was excellent and everything worked like clockwork. Caz is very knowledgeable on all aspects of archaeology in Orkney.
Visited May 2016
My wife & I went on this tour at the beginning of May and we would have no hesitation in recommending it to you. Dave, our guide, took us to all sorts of places covering different ages of history so it's not just archaeological stuff! His knowledge is really good but it's not just a load of facts and figures - there's plenty of thought-provoking stuff too. My personal highlights were the Italian Chapel and the Hackness Napoleonic Fort & Martello Tower whereas my wife is much more into the neolithic sites. As others have said, if you are thinking about booking a tour then do it as soon as possible - they are booked up well in advance. This alone speaks volumes. Read their website carefully because some of the sites do require a certain amount of flexibility to access them. We're in our sixties and we managed fine but there are a few (fixed but short) ladders and a couple of sites to crawl in to as well as one or two walks of a few hundred metres. Also the weather is a factor because you are outside a lot of the time - archaeologists don't let a little bit of rain stop them! We actually had five glorious days out of the six but the wind is constant (at least it kept the midges away). Make sure you have warm, wind-resistant clothing. And sunscreen! Plus a decent camera because you will take loads of pictures. You could maybe do with starving yourself before you come because the food at the Ayre Hotel is really good and plentiful. Then there's the lunches at various Cafes round the islands - home-made soup and sandwiches and cake. We have put on quite a few kilos...Have we had a great time? Oh, yes! So will you. Visited May 2016
I really wondered whether writing another 5 Star review of OAT would make any difference, but it is simply one way of sharing with others what a marvellous experience awaits anyone who signs up to go on one of Dave & Caz's archaeology holidays. If you love history and archaeology, you will be enthralled by this; if you have even some knowledge of the very special archaeological heritage of the Orkney islands, you will benefit immensely from the very high quality commentary and explanations offered by your guide. I have learned a lot and have just returned from one of the best holiday experiences imaginable. My wife and I were part of a group of eight who followed a very well chosen itinerary with Dave over the course of a week, finishing off with the Ring of Brodgar and the Broch of Gurness. I will simply say Wow ! and leave it to others to experience for themselves. Dave's encyclopaedic knowledge is a reflection of his top level academic achievements, and our group questions were answered patiently and thoroughly. It is SO much more than a trundle around some fascinating sights - it was inspirational. Other factors which contributed to this 5 Star experience - the Ayre Hotel with it's friendly staff and very good food (how do they do it with coach tours descending of an evening for their dinner ?); the lunch stops - delicious soup and sandwiches at selected tearooms on the islands - not one was below par; and the folklore, wildlife and local stories which Dave had in abundance. We had lovely weather - dry, sunny and windy and whilst Dave would not try to take credit for that, it did make for a very special week that will live long in the memory. Thank you Dave and Caz for delivering a truly enjoyable and enlightening experience. Visited May 2016
If, like me, you have been thinking about visiting Orkney for many years; stop thinking and just do it. Yes it is a bit more complicated to get to than other parts of the UK, but what it offers is amazing and worth the effort to get there. The Orkney Archaeology Tour provides an excellent tour of both the archaeology and history of the islands, showing the landscape history and archaeology with all its complex re-use over time put into context. Moving from the Neolithic through to modern history, with the last of the Royal Navy departing in the 1950’s, the use and reuse of this remote landscape was demonstrated and explained.
The tour was over 6 days, and there were 6 travellers plus a guide in a comfortable mini-bus. The places we visited were carefully grouped so that we rarely were more than 20-30 minutes in the bus before the place to visit. There was plenty time to take in the site, walk around, take photographs and even spot do a bit of bird watching. There was a good rapport within the group of 4 individual travellers and one couple.
The knowledge of our guide (in this case Caz) is excellent and current: there was not a question left unanswered; not an ‘I need to find out for you’; nor any hesitation is providing answers to the many and varied questions the group asked. Her knowledge covered not just the history and archaeology of the islands, but also the crafts, the wildlife, the geology and geography. The brochure is accurate so do take notice of the advice provided on clothing, shoes etc. It is there for a reason! We scrambled through Neolithic tunnels wearing knee-pads to get into tombs, climbed up a Martello Tower, clambered up hillsides, and hung over the sides of a cliff to get a photograph of a puffin – thanks for that one Caz – it was not on the tour schedule! As the brochure says you can get 4 seasons in one day – but it never kept us in and despite being the first tour of the season, the weather was kind – if windy – and the rain was mainly when we were indoors or in the bus. There were also lovely sunny evenings to walk around Kirkwall, and I needed my sunscreen on the last day. An excellent holiday that exceeded my expectations – and one I hope to be able to repeat again in the future. Visited May 2016
For archaeology and history fans this holiday is outstanding. The guides are extremely passionate and are delighted to share their knowledge. The hotel is great, the food is plentiful and tasty. There are loads of tea breaks and toilet stops. I would recommend OAT to anyone who wants to understand Orkney now and in the past. First rate! Visited April 2016
If archaeology is your thing, this is the tour for you. The Orkney Islands must have more archaeological sites per square mile than any place else on earth. Learning about them from Dr. Dave Lawrence made it all come to life. He has to be the leading expert on all things Orkney, from the Neolithic all the way through to yesterday. I never wanted to be out of earshot from him, as he was full of fascinating and fun facts and details. His knowledge and love of the area and its history was contagious, and truly made this an unforgettable experience. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the week was the individual attention our group of 8 received. Dave tailored it to our knowledge level, and was particularly keen to give us all the facts and encourage us to develop theories of our own. He was also very patient with my husband, who wasn't so much into the archaeology as he was into photography and his new camera. Dave allowed plenty of time for photo ops. The accommodations at the Ayre Hotel were comfortable, the food was wonderful, and the service was friendly and personal. This is a very active tour, requiring a good deal of walking, climbing and (optional) crawling. Take seriously the tour operators' recommendations about good hiking shoes and rain gear. However, there were folks in our group over the age of 70, and they were able to handle it well and enjoy it just as much as the rest of us. For me this was a trip of a lifetime, and it exceeded all my expectations. Thank you, Dave, for a week I will continue to enjoy forever.