2017 reviews of our tours
Exceeded my expectations. This is much more than a great tour, it is a wonderful, stimulating learning experience. Dave Lawrence is much more than a tour leader, he is a terrific teacher and organiser. Dave imparted his extensive knowledge of the Orkneys and its long history in a clear, interesting and amusing manner. He encouraged our group to think about the meaning of the things we were seeing and was very responsive to our many, many questions. The group size of 8 is just right for ease of movement. Our group would frequently carry on discussing the meanings behind the things we had seen that day over dinner.
The organisation of the tour was perfect.
The Best Way to Visit Orkney. This tour was extremely well organized. We considered spending a week exploring Orkney on our own, but we are so glad we chose the tour. It would have been nearly impossible to see all the great historical sights included with this tour in such a short amount of time. Additionally, having an extremely knowledgable and friendly guide in Dr. Dave Lawrence allowed us to get the most out of each site. We highly recommend this tour, especially if you are interested in neolithic/viking/pictish history... or delicious British lunches! It was definitely our favorite part of our 3 weeks travelling through Scotland.
A wonderful experience. Everything about our Orkney Archeology Tour was sensational. Dave was a fantastic guide - so knowledgeable and a great storyteller. Detailed planning meant that the trip ran extremely smoothly. It was a privilege to learn about Orkney through such expert guidance. The Ayre Hotel is very clean and comfortable, and the staff friendly. If you're at all interested in archeology, take this tour!
Wonderful week in Orkney. My husband and I took the week-long tour the beginning of July 2017. I'm very interested in archaeology and read up on Orkney history before our trip, so I was in seventh heaven visiting all the sites and hearing the latest news from the neolithic from our professional archaeologist guide Dave Lawrence. My husband, who sometimes grumbles when dragged off to medieval ruins, happily got interested in the tombs, stones, ruins and the historical locations around Scapa Flow. The small-group van travel is a much preferred alternative to a large coach tour, and was quite pleasant with the group we were with even with a full head-count. The accommodations at the Ayre Hotel were very friendly and comfortable with good selections for dinner: scallops were our favorite. We had one issue when we discovered the first day that lunches consisted mostly of sandwiches and cakes, which isn't good for my husband who has to watch his blood sugar. But we mentioned this to Dave who arrange an alternative veggie plate on subsequent lunches.
We thoroughly enjoyed our Orkney Archaeology tour.
Exceeded my expectations. I was expecting a look at a select group of sites, but received much more. Not only did we see many wonderful neolithic sites, but also enjoyed a greater appreciation of the background and the context of many other eras and the evolution of Orkney's settlements. This educational and entertaining was provided in lengthy, engaging, and occasionally humorous commentary by David. For me, it improved my knowledge Orkney's place in ancient, mediaeval and modern Europe. I loved it. I'm planning on coming back to see more of the Ness of Brodgar.
Wonderful. This guided tour was everything we could have wished for, and more. We were given a comprehensive and extremely interesting time by our guide, Dave. He not only took us through the history and archaeology of the region, but also put it in context (including history, mythology and the various theories that have arisen) and answered all questions that arose during the tour. The site visits give a very good cross section of the very rich history of Orkney, and accompanied by Dave's explanations, we gained far more than we could have hoped for. The documentation provided before the tour was very helpful. The accommodation booked by OAT was fine, and we were well looked after during the whole time. Size of party just right so everyone included, so all gelled very well. Thoroughly recommended.
I'll never look at a mound the same way again! Adding another 5 star review just to say thanks to our tour guide Dave for a brilliant week that was so well organised and utterly fascinating. The Orkneys are definitely a very special place, it's amazing how much there is to see and do up there and as others have said, a week isn't long enough at all! Often the tour guide makes (or breaks) the tour and Dave definitely made it for us with his clear explanations and incredible knowledge of every place we went, making sure we never bumped into large crowds of other tourists, and communicating everything we needed to know at every step of the way. Before the trip I was slightly concerned that it might be too technical for someone like me who doesn't know a huge amount about ancient history, and go over my head, but I needn't have worried about that at all. Dave made amateur enthusiasts out of all of us by drawing us into the neolithic and iron age world and bringing it all to life. And it was so relaxing and lovely to have everything all sorted out and catered for, with no frantic early mornings and lots of delicious lunches. Thank you for an unforgettable holiday that we both loved every minute of. We'll never look at a mound the same way again :)
Orkneys revisited. What can I say that hasn`t been said before. Dave`s knowledge was huge. The tour was well thought out, so that we managed to avoid the cruisers at the popular sites. I personally wasn't that interested in the more modern archaeology but thoroughly enjoyed the more ancient sites. Dave was very kind in accommodating my personal journey, thanks again Dave. The Ayre Hotel was excellent. Having visited 30 years ago I noticed the increased commercialisation, a sign of the times.
Well worth waiting for; a great week. This trip has to be booked a long time ahead as the tour only takes a party of 8 in each week. It was well worth waiting for. As an ex-digger, Orkney has been on my must do list for a long time. The trip covers the whole range of Orkney's history - not just the Neolithic but all up to the near present. The depth of explanation was great - not just a brief introduction but details and responses to questions (beginner level and advanced) leavened with humour! The documentation sent before the trip was good - including suggestions for clothing to deal with the Orkney variable weather.
Fantastic Tour! The tour exceeded our high expectations. We were lucky enough to have both Caz and Dave as guides. Both clearly love Orkney, archaeology, and do a great job at sharing their knowledge. It was more than just an archaeology tour; it also included the history of Orkney. They have the local knowledge needed to avoid the tour bus crowds. Everything is well planned and nothing is left to chance. Great lunches are included! The brochure is detailed and covers every bit of the adventure. If you want an in depth tour of the archaeology sites in Orkney, this is the tour for you. Many thanks to Caz and Dave for a great experience!
Exceeded ALL expectations. Toured every archaeological site and other interesting places. Dave was a font of knowledge and made the old seem new and exciting for those with only general knowledge of archaeology. Would highly recommend for anyone with an interest in Orkney's history and archaeology beginning with neolithic times. Be sure and book well in advance as the tours fill up quickly.
Brilliant and engaging week. Never been on an organised trip before, but decided to on this occasion as there is so much to see on Orkney. It was the right decision. Dave and Caz have honed their approach to give their clients a clear sense of the history and development of Orkney and in depth insight into key periods It became clear how valuable their knowledge and commitment to the islands are. They selected sites to visit that illustrate key trends. Both guides are knowledgeable and very - very - organised, so your needs are catered for without leaving you feeling herded around. They scheduled things carefully so that we avoided busy times when cruise liners decant, didn't have to wait around for lunch etc. The week is varied. I was drawn by the neolithic sites and at first was worried when I saw we'd be covering other periods in the same day. In fact, this mix worked extremely well and I learned so much. I also had reservations being a solo traveller, but my group were all great travelling companions, brought together by common interest. Can't recommend highly enough.
Fascinating archaeology, wonderful holiday and beautiful islands. As a holiday this had it all. The expert guiding of Caz Mamwell, coupled with the sheer range of sites visited and history that we covered made this holiday a fascinating experience. The islands are beautiful and I made my husband promise we'd go back as we flew out. We only scratched the surface of all there is to see and do. I would recommend going when the Ness of Brodgar dig is on if you can. The accommodation at the Ayre Hotel in Kirkwall was truly excellent with delicious food and comfortable rooms. Lunch of soup, sandwiches and cake proved fatal - I'm now on a strict diet! Can't recommend this enough. I was a little worried my husband might not enjoy it as he's more of a 20th century history man but the archaeology and history covers everything from neolithic to WW2 so there's something for everyone and he ended up almost as fascinated as me by the pre-history of these islands.
Excellent tour with a great guide! If you are interested in history or archaeology this is the tour for you. Our guide Caz brilliantly guided us through sites from the Neolithic to WWII with an effortless supply of knowledge and humour. Highly recommended!
Confirming all other top reviews. Deep history (literally) led by a true expert well connected not only to the Orkney archaeology community but to Island locals and their history up to today. Well fed, well lodged, well informed, we were nicely steered into both tiny and huge burial cairns, led up hills to stunning views, educated in depth at each site and even allowed gift shop and wandering time! Ness of Brodgar was an exciting active dig in progress, and visiting Midhowe was an extraordinary, powerful experience- my favorite. The group was all committed to the experience and therefore a pleasure to know. Many thanks Caz for this wonderful experience.
If you are interested in history and endless beauty, this is the tour for you! The excellence of this tour makes it worth the wait. It consists of a small weekly group of 8 travelers hosted by an excellent guide. Its itinerary covers historical sites that span from the Neolithic to World War II and is presented before a backdrop of gorgeous, breathtaking scenery. We choose this tour after spending several years looking at various Orkney tour possibilities---our experience far exceeded our expectations. Caz was our expert guide who knew absolutely everything there was to know about the history of Orkney. Her enthusiasm, apparent love for Orkney, and quick humor made the trip not only historically fascinating, but down right enjoyable as well. Every detail including lodging, meals, entrance fees, and transportation was well planned and functioned with precision. Our experience with Orkney Archaeology Tours hosted by Caz has set a new high for evaluating future adventures. We had an absolutely wonderful time and will definitely recommend this tour to anyone who asks!
Gold Medal Performance. It's hard to imagine how a tour of Orkney could be done better. The small group size (8 people) made for a sociable yet personal experience and our host/guide was knowledgeable and professional and everything came off without a hitch. We were especially fortunate to be in with a friendly, international group who got on well.
Fantastic four day private tour! I had an amazing time during my tour and can't think of anything to improve it! Caz was great and I learned so much. Each day was interesting and enjoyable. The itinerary was flexible to allow for changes due to the weather and we also squeezed a couple of things in that I wanted to do that weren't archaeology related (trip to Stromness and buying wool). Can't fault the accommodation and food either. Thoroughly recommend the tour!
Really interesting tour. The tour was very well organized from the initial enquiry onwards. The trip took you to well-known sites, like Skara Brae and the Ness of Brodgar, but also to less well known sites, which were in many ways more evocative. There was plenty of time to go around each site and in many sites the tour was planned so that your group was the only one at the site. You need good walking boots and weather proof clothing. There is a fair amount of walking, but it is not that strenuous. On my visit, there were people who looked like they might struggle, but everyone got to the sites and got to walk round them or climb into underground sites. All very worthwhile. The tour was run by two people who have extensive hands-on and academic archaeological experience and knowledge, making the tour a really unique experience. Highly recommended.
Educational and Exciting! If you are looking for a superior Orkney experience, this is the company to pick.
We booked a private Orkney Archaeology Tour the week before the season started in 2017. We saw the popular sites like Skara Brae but also many important cairns and settlements that gave us a fuller perspective on prehistoric life in Orkney. Our guide David Lawrence is an accomplished archaeologist who know everything -- and everyone -- in Orkney archaeology and explains it all with humor, grace and much-appreciated context. He never fell into rote guide-speak, and he always explained things fully and clearly even when we pestered him into the details. We felt smarter at the end of every day. Orkney's Iron Age sites, Viking settlements and World War II naval facilities provide an interesting counterpoint to fantastic Neolithic sites. Organizationally, Caz and David are top-notch. They are familiar with the schedules of other groups and do their best to adjust their tours to avoid crowds and accommodate the often-changing weather. This is very important, given a) the changeable Orkney weather and b) the increasing pressure on many sites from rapidly growing tourism. The Ayre Hotel is straightforward and comfortable, and the hotel staff is very friendly and helpful. We had a harbor view room that was lovely. Their food is fine and included in the package price, but for a special dining experience, try breaking away for a night to the Foveran, just outside of Kirkwall.
We are pleased to recommend Orkney Archaeology Tours without hesitation.
A Trip of a Lifetime! I went on this archaeological tour of the Orkneys a couple of weeks ago, and all I can say is that it was incredible! I wasn't sure what to expect, or how experienced the guide might be, but Dave has the education and the chops to bring the Neolithic to life. At the end of the first day I told him that the tour was even better than I had hoped for! I recommend this tour very highly - it was wonderful!
The real deal...off the tourist trap. I'd been considering this tour for a couple of years and totally glad I finally clicked yes! A jammed packed tour and educational experience of some of the oldest evidences of human history there is. This was really great. Get a peak at the world humans lived in back in 3500BC. And, Dave, our guide gave fabulous information about the history, where there's the history to give! And shared all the various theories where uncertainty lay. The group is small - 8 people...all of whom were fascinating. The days were packed and every moment worth savoring. Definitely worth it! Not the run of the mill tourist trip!
Attention to detail. Caz and Dave are highly qualified professional archaeologists and the tour they deliver covers all of the major sites and many interesting lesser ones. The commentary and interpretation are of a very high standard and delivered at a pace to suit the group, with a genuine enthusiasm and passion for this very special place. The practical aspects, transport, meals and accommodation are also superb. A truly memorable experience.
Amazing in every way. So much more than I had expected. The depth of knowledge, insights, and organization of every detail is exceptional.
A wonderful week in Orkney. Dave was a fantastic guide who made what we were seeing come alive. He presented his extensive knowledge in a way that made it easy to understand. The choice of sites to visit was excellent. This trip more than exceeded our expectations and I can't recommend it highly enough.
First visit to Orkney. The archaeology tour was everything we had hoped for and more. It was active and stimulating, shooting up and down hillsides and groping through tunnels to see Neolithic and Viking tombs, with an unfailingly erudite and absorbing commentary from David Lawrence. He was indefatigable through sun and rain, warm and cold and was able to give solid answers to all the questions put to him by the party. Our company got on splendidly with one another from the start and the week culminated in a jolly dinner party at which we all exchanged e-mail addresses. The Ayre Hotel was very comfortable and always provided good food (except that the flasks of coffee were never quite hot enough at breakfast).
All in all a wholly enjoyable experience and we would recommend it to anyone curious about Orkney and/or archaeology.
The Real Deal. With the enormous number and variety of sites in Orkney, a comprehensive approach is essential. That's what these guys provide. In the course of a week, Dave led us on an exploration of science and legend, applying logic where possible and debunking a few myths along the way. Directly witnessing 6,000 years of evidence is a most exhilarating way to learn history, still being uncovered daily in these beautiful islands. This is one for the bucket list, folks.
Terrific! Don't hesitate to book up, even if you have to book up a year ahead. The archeology on Orkney is wonderful - everything from the prehistoric to the Second World War and David did a splendid job of explaining it. Well planned days with a variety of sites each day and excellent lunch stops.
Have to join the parade of praise. If you are a lover of history from the Neolithic to the very recent and everything in between this is the tour for you. Run by Caz the days proceed like clock work. Never miss the chance to visit the toilet or to see some amazing new (to you at least) ancient place. The days go by without a dull moment and by the evening you hit the sack exhausted but satisfied and looking forward to the next day. Caz is clearly on top of her topic. Is a font of knowledge but also remembers the small touches - knee pads and gloves for climbing into cairns. Lunch is soup, sangers and cake, with in most cases the chance to buy something alcoholic
It was an interesting continuing discussion about the predilection of archaeologists to explain things they don't understand as a ritual. I too prefer materialist explanations but I thought by the end of thing we were getting a bit over the top. Archaeology clearly goes in cycles with it seems ritual gaining prominence post war as a reaction against the Marxist approaches of people like VG Childe (clearly someone admired by Caz). Not about to turn into Francis Pryor but is it not the case that sometimes ritual is designed to secure the performance of some difficult but important practical task? Anyway food for thought. As I say nothing to criticise, everything to praise about this marvellous week long trek through history. No trip to Orkney by anyone interested in educating themselves would be complete without it.
Highly recommended! We have been on guided archeology tours in Egypt, Turkey and Malta, but this has to be the best: Caz knows all there is to know about prehistory, history, myths and legends, and anecdotes, and explained it all with patience and a sense of humour. Accommodation was comfortable, transport was efficient, lunch stops super. As a bonus, the others in our group were really nice people. Our only regret is that Caz had to hand us over to an "official" guide for the visit of Maeshowe, but rules are rules.