Read reviews of our 2018 tours

All of these reviews come from our Tripadvisor page.

Our guide, Caz Mamwell, led our little band of eight visitors through structures lived in by humans 5000 years ago and another of 300 years ago - with the same central hearth and smoke hole in the ceiling. With her, we climbed into towers of the iron age and of the Napoleonic wars. She is a working archaeologist and told us not only what we know about these structures, but how we know it. She's also a story-teller - with a sprinkling of skeptical salt, she related stories of Viking days from the Orkneyinga Saga. Logistics of the six days were flawless. September 2018

 

Booked this from NCL cruise line. Fabulous and knowledgeable guide Beautiful countryside and great history. Ring of Brodgar is amazing the ancient village of Skara Brae (dating back 5,000 years) is a must see. September 2018

 

Fascinating archaeological artefacts in Orkney very well explained, so far as our knowledge of life 5,000 years ago allows. Be prepared for wet and windy weather, what the Orcadians say is a stiff breeze we would call a howling gale, so the rain goes sideways! The hotel was excellent apart from the wine. September 2018

 

Best tour experience I have had, and I am 78! I was blown away by our Dave our guide. It was a special tour set up after the regular season and he had every right to be tired and burned out, but on the contrary, he was extremely enthusiastic and articulate. Tour guides usually overload you with dry facts and despite the fact that we were experiencing strong winds and rain, these facts were delivered in an extraordinarily effective way. He has mastered the art of story-telling history, This is a challenge for practiced professors, and he was better than any of them AND he was doing it in the rain! Our group had diverse backgrounds and he managed to maintain our complete attention and interest while he unloaded a tremendous amount of history from the mesolithic to WWII! I have never learned so much in three days nor ever had so much fun. What more can I say. Even if you have to wait a couple years to get a tour with this group, DO IT! September 2018

Tour of a lifetime. This tour was first on my list of adventures when I retired. It took almost three years to get a spot when the Ness was open. The wait was well worth it. The tour far exceeded my expectations. Although I am primarily interested in the neolithic period, which is exceptionally well represented on Orkney, the range of interesting archeological eras represented on Orkney was extraordinary. I very much appreciated Caz' practical explanations of the evidence. Her deep knowledge of the archeological sites and her love of Orkney made the adventure come alive for the 8 of us. It was a luxury to stay at one place, the Ayre Hotel, for the entire week. The staff always had a friendly smile and a concern for our well being in spite of their busy schedule. We enjoyed all our meals. We particularly appreciated the good company of our eloquent fellow travelers and concur 100% with their reviews (CRMSFB, scumar2018, and mhd396). We enjoyed the additional adventure of hiking the West Highland Way, which helped to work off some the the delicious cake and other meals that we indulged in on our Orkney Archeological Tour.

 

A wonderful experience. I went on this tour to learn more about our prehistoric ancestors but I got so much more from the experience. As well as getting close to the archaeology we were the beneficiaries of the amazing knowledge imparted by our guide Caz. She shared not only her wealth of understanding of the archaeology around us but also of Orkney past and present and did so with humour and patience. The days were full of interest but at no time did I feel rushed.  The Ayre hotel was very comfortable and the food good and plentiful - the lunches of soup and sandwiches at local cafes throughout the islands were amazing and an opportunity to get to know each other.  As a single traveller I had been a little nervous beforehand but I didn't need to worry. I had a wonderful time. August 2018

 

Exceeded our Expectations. What a super tour. We went for the neolithic, and experienced everything from the ancient up to the 20th century - from Skara Brae to Scapa Flow. The accomodation was good, the food generally excellent, but most importantly Caz' knowledge was encyclopedic, entertaining and tremendously witty. As a bonus we had great company and great fun.  August 2018

 

Orkney is a haven of surprises – beautiful ones! In joining the chorus of excellent reviews for the Orkney Archaeology Tours we concur with all the fabulous experiences written. (scumar2018 & mhd396 were fellow guests). History, archeology, scenery, local life - for the curious each day was filled with an amazing selection of commentary and examination of sites from the Neolithic to present day industry - notably the thriving artisan industry of jewellery. An easy pace, well constructed itinerary, knowledgeable and every little item thought through to make our stay and tour in Orkney absolutely fabulous. Thank you Caz for an exceptional tour, we appreciated the thoughtfulness, the well constructed programme, your professional attention to detail and last but not least, the fact that you are an archeologist with a vast knowledge that you generously shared with us - when in fact you probably wanted to be in the dig! Best wishes for Swandro. August 2018
 

Best holiday experience of recent years. I was on the same tour as mhd396 and I agree wholeheartedly with everything in that review. In fact “exceeded all expectations” was my final comment to Caz as we parted on the last tour day. It is important to realise that Caz is, first and foremost, a professional practising archaeologist as well as a fully qualified tour guide and everyone on the tour gets the benefit of her expertise in both fields. It is clear that the planning of this tour has been refined over many years and it runs like a well oiled machine but Caz makes the whole week very special and personal with her knowledge, experience and obvious enthusiasm for everything that she shows and communicates. Our week coincided with the last few days of the 2018 dig at the Ness of Brodgar and, of course, as we went around the site we discovered that Caz had trained on the same university course as Nick Card, the lead archaeologist, and had even looked after his dog on many occasions. In fact, everywhere we went Caz seemed to know everyone! My wife didn’t come on the tour bus but was welcomed at the Ayre Hotel on exactly the same terms as everyone else. She enjoyed exploring Kirkwall and further afield and, of course, the evening meals taken with the other tour members. As a personal bonus and not part of the tour, we were able to use the free afternoon to get a ferry to Flotta to see where my father had been stationed during WW2. I had to book this holiday more than eighteen months in advance but it was well worth the wait. I cannot recommend this tour more highly.  August 2018

 

Exceeded all Expectations. This was an amazing week of informative and good-natured touring of the wonders of Orkney. Caz was an incredible guide, it seemed there was nothing she couldn’t give us information about! She was able to respond to the groups interests as we went and we had a genuinely fabulous time. And the cake is to die for! The Ayre hotel was a great home base, made us all feel very welcome and valued as customers. Caz has a clearly great relationship with all the people she has business arrangements with, it was all so professional but also personal. My favourites were unexpected treasures, loved the day on Rousay and on Hoy. The museum farm was a complete surprise and absolute treasure, could have spent a day there alone. And of course going in all the monuments with an authoritative guide was so awesome. Just everything was great, not a single let down. I would go again in a heartbeat. The tour group was fun and congenial group of like minded people, and we all looked out for each other. And Caz made sure we had all amenities all the time! It is no surprise that this tour books so quickly. Just go if you get the opportunity. We topped it off by going to see the Pictish stones in National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, which is a wonderful follow up, the copies you see elsewhere are very pale imitations. After Caz’s explanations and background we appreciated them with keen new insights. August 2018

 

Fantastic Tour! Orkney Archaeology Tours has a well-earned reputation for providing THE best tour – archaeology-based or otherwise, in my opinion – of Orkney. Comprehensive and extremely-well organized, Dave and Caz seem to have considered every last little detail to ensure tour participants always have an exceptional experience (with visits to popular locales timed carefully to avoid large tour buses and the cruise ship crowds). On my tour week we were led by Dave, extremely knowledgeable of course on all things archaeological, but also regarding the history and culture of Orkney (and while he claimed to know little about birds, his knowledge of Orcadian birds sure seemed on par with that of the serious birders in our group!). I greatly appreciated that while he always shared the various theories and speculation regarding different sites and finds, Dave was always willing to concede that in many cases “we just don’t know.” We saw and learned so much, and never felt rushed. Lodging at the Ayre Hotel was wonderful – very friendly staff, great rooms, wonderful dinners. All in all, perhaps the best travel experience I have had. I cannot recommend Orkney Archaeology Tours strongly enough – it was a fabulous experience. July 2018

 

A fabulous tour. We discovered Orkney Archaeology Tours by chance and were lucky enough to get a spot for two—normally bookings need to be made a year in advance. From the beginning, Cas, one of the owners, was extremely efficient in her communication and the information provided. The tour group is limited to 8 people, which was a great number in terms of being able to hear explanations and ask questions, as well as getting to know others. Two of our group were singles, and due to the small group size, were able to fit in easily. Cas and her partner have been doing this for over 10 years, and they seem to have figured out all the details, so the tour runs extremely smoothly. In terms of content, Cas and her partner are experts—they each have PhDs in archeology, and consequently the nature and tone of the tour is of very high quality, yet delivered in a way that is accessible to many levels of knowledge. We started joking about how often Cas would say “we just don’t know”—as opposed to other guides we encountered who were quick to state “facts”. Cas has a deep knowledge of archeology and Orkney, so we learned a great deal. We had read up beforehand so really appreciated hearing from someone directly involved in the field. We were most interested in the Neolithic to Iron Age ourselves, and were very happy with that aspect, as well as being surprised at the comprehensive tour of the Martello Tower. Being able to visit sites on other islands was a bonus. The pace of activities each day and throughout the week was very well organized. The group stayed at the Ayre Hotel, and we felt we were very well treated. When we booked in, we asked if we might have a harbour view and were told that Cas’s groups always got good rooms—ours was great. The tours includes all meals, so expect a buffet breakfast, delicious lunches of soup,sandwiches and cake at various local places, and substantial suppers at the hotel. (We found the portion size large and shared a main.)The second last day, our group discussed the practice of tipping—which seemed a bit odd as the guide is the owner—and each of us opted to donate to the Swandro dig instead. August 2018


We cannot think of a single thing that could be improved and highly recommend this tour.

Four of us spent an amazing week with Caz. Her knowledge and experience in the field of archaeology is incredible. Her ability to share that knowledge is amazing. We feel very privileged to have spent the week with her. Everything was so well organised. Guests receive a very comprehensive welcome pack on arrival at the Ayre Hotel. The Orkney map was much appreciated as was the book which enabled us to do some appropriate reading in preparation for each day. The Ayre Hotel is very clean and comfortable, the food is good and the staff are delightful. The tour vehicle provided was also very clean and comfortable and sound system was greatly appreciated by all. Lunch stops were superb. Orkney Archaeological Tours is a very professional company and we would highly recommend their tours to anyone who loves archaeology and stunning landscapes. August 2018

 

Four of us spent an amazing week with Caz. Her knowledge and experience in the field of archaeology is incredible. Her ability to share that knowledge is amazing. We feel very privileged to have spent the week with her. Everything was so well organised. Guests receive a very comprehensive welcome pack on arrival at the Ayre Hotel. The Orkney map was much appreciated as was the book which enabled us to do some appropriate reading in preparation for each day. The Ayre Hotel is very clean and comfortable, the food is good and the staff are delightful. The tour vehicle provided was also very clean and comfortable and sound system was greatly appreciated by all. Lunch stops were superb. Orkney Archaeological Tours is a very professional company and we would highly recommend their tours to anyone who loves archaeology and stunning landscapes. August 2018

  

Excellent, would highly recommend. Excellent tour of the Orkneys, demonstrating life over the past 5000 years, visited all the major sites. Dave was a perfect guide, extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of archeology and the more recent history of the islands. He passed on the information in his own unique and amusing style. We were well taken care of at the hotel and all the restaurants where we had lunch, fantastic soup sandwiches and lovely cakes. This is one of the best holidays I have had and I would highly recommend Orkney Archeological Tours. July 2018

  

Easily the best archaeology tour of Orkney. With so many rave reviews rating Caz Mamwell, I wondered if Dave Lawrence might be a less sparky guide. Needn’t have worried, he was brilliant, and I suspect this dynamic duo are equally knowledgeable, well-organised and fun to be with. Where this tour excels over any others (and there were quite a few around at the same time) is the small group size (8) along with Dave and Caz’s intimate knowledge of the islands and what else was going on so as to avoid busy times at the better known sites. The archaeology was well explained, linked with the landscape and history. The organisation was faultless, lunches delightful and the hotel comfortable and friendly. The daily programme was exhilaratingly full yet you never felt rushed anywhere. And we got to hear from Caz too when we caught up with her digging the fabulous Knowe of Swandro. July 2018

  

Never dreamed we would get such a full, all-encompassing tour of Orkney! From neolithic times forward to today, and of course focusing on archaeology, Dr. Dave Lawrence was the perfect guide to Orkney--knowledgeable, communicative, amusing and full of fascinating information. We were well taken care of with hotel, food and attention while visiting sites. To be in Orkney, both in the modern towns as well as magnificent, remote areas made for an absolutely unforgettable week!

June 2018

Very interesting and very enjoyable. Caz made the tour both very enlightening and very enjoyable. Not only did I get a great appreciation of the achievements of my Neolithic ancestors, but also an insight into modern life on the Orkney Islands. Everything about the trip was well organised and the all-inclusive payment made it very easy. A week without rain was the icing on the cake! June 2018

  

Time travel made easy An unforgettable trip through time, from Neolithic sites to the WW2 Churchill Barriers dropping in on the Vikings and those pesky Stewarts on the way. We not only journeyed around the Mainland, but took time out in the beautiful Hoy and Rousay as an introduction to the islands. Highly recommended. June 2018

 

Attention to detail I could not have wished for a better introduction to Orkney - from pre-history right up to the present. As others have stated, Caz has a wonderful knowledge in her specialist field and is also well versed about life in modern day Orkney. The organisation was flawless throughout, and with some nice touches like the walking poles, knee pads, and gloves provided when access to some of the sites prescribed. Well worth every penny! Thank you Caz May 2018

 

 An extraordinary trip I can't imagine exploring Orkney without Caz. Guided by her extensive knowledge, meticulous preparation, patience, and humor, we traveled from 5,000 BC to WWII (with constant reminders to keep our heads down when entering tombs and lunchtime stops for delicious sandwiches and soups). The van was comfortable and provided us with water and walking sticks. It is hard to pick favorites but I found most moving the tombs Cuween cairn and the Dwarfie Stane. The Ayre Hotel was comfortable and pleasant. A later trip to the Edinburgh National Museum was more meaningful because of the Orkney context Caz provided. May 2018

  

Now I begin to understand Excellent introduction to Orkney prehistory and even to today’s info about the cat’s name at the CPL shop. Superbly organised, highly informative, well-paced, over-indulged in food. Every question answered in full but not to excess. Glorious sunset views from hotel in Kirkwall. We were surprisingly blessed by gorgeous weather nearly every day. Only quibble was that the hotel had no cosy residents’ bar for evening discussion. Can’t recommend too highly. May 2018

An excellent introduction to the archaeology and history of Orkney Dr Caz Mamwell is a fount of archaeological and historical knowledge of Orkney with a gift for presenting her material in an interesting and engaging manner. The tour was organised with great efficiency and the selection of sites visited was balanced across the the whole Neolithic to Viking period to maintain our interest. We appreciated Caz's willingness to challenge some of the more "popular" versions of Orkney's past and her readiness to say when there were no simple answers to questions we raised. The Ayre hotel selected by Orkney Archaeology was very comfortable and friendly and proved to be excellent value for money. May 2018

  

Superb Orkney Holiday What a brilliant week! Our guide, Caz , got the balance just right. She has the depth of knowledge you would expect from an expert but manages to impart information to relative newcomers to the subject with patience and humour. She was most patient with our constant questions. Travelling with a small group of like minded people was good fun and we visited a wide range of fascinating sites. Her organisational skills and attention to detail were superb and she was extremely kind and helpful. Her skills also extended to ornithology and we were assisted in leaning over the cliff edge to see our first Puffin! The Ayre Hotel was excellent; great local sea food and staff very friendly. Highly recommended!

May 2018

  

Excellent Orkney Archaeological Tour! This tour was a detailed introduction to Orkney archaeological sites and history. Our guide, Dr. Caz Mamwell, was truly an expert in this field and also since she lives in Orkney, she could add details of current life and conditions. We visited many islands and numerous sites from Neolithic times and more recent. The group size of 8 and Caz's expert planning had us at sites almost always by ourselves. The hotel was very nice, the food delicious. My favorite was the night we all ordered a haggis dinner. It was a perfect educational and fun vacation! April 2018

  

The Best of Orkney in Every Way We had a wonderful time on our 1-week tour with Orkney Archaeology Tours. Everything was meticulously planned to fill our days with the best sights and fascinating, highly knowledgeable commentary by our guide, who also was attentive to the needs of everyone in the group. Along with an insider's view of Orkney's marvelous archeology, history, and scenery, we had fine and friendly accommodations in a comfortable, clean local hotel that provided great breakfasts and dinners each day. Lunches were a delight in carefully chosen local restaurants where we had hearty soup each day with sandwiches and "of course" cakes--all served with the delightful company of our fellow travelers. Our tour included some surprises--the tower on Hoy, a visit with a local miller, and lunch stop that included time to meet and chat with a local jewelry artist--that added to the pleasure of the tour. We saw and learned a lot and so enjoyed the time with our guide and our tour members. May 2018

  

Tour of Orkney's archaeology This holiday ticked every box for me, and managed to exceed my high expectations! Our tour guide, Caz, was not only an expert in the archaeology and history of Orkney, but had excellent local knowledge of the best places to eat, to see the wildlife, and which days were the best to visit the islands of Hoy and Rounsay (to avoid the influx of cruise ship day trippers). She was highly organised, and the schedule ran smoothly. We visited all of the main sights that had been on all of our 'wish lists' for Orkney, and all exceeded our expectations. Rousay was wonderful, and we benefited from the expertise of Caz, who was up-to-date with all of the recent digs and their findings. The hotel was excellent - although I was travelling alone, I had a large double room with bath. The hotel had friendly and helpful staff, and the food was plentiful with a lot of menu choice (including steaks, prawns, scallops, prawns, local cheeses, and lots of puddings!), I was not sure what to expect in terms of the rest of the group - but everyone was very friendly and we ate supper together each evening in the hotel, and laughed and chatted in the bus during the day. The lunches were also excellent, we visited a new tea room every day and sampled delicious homemade soups, sandwiches and more cakes than we could eat. I recommend this holiday and I would go on another if I could! May 2018

 

A great tour to many sites and sights We had booked on the first tour of the season and were delighted with our week. Every day was packed with interesting places to see, of dates from 3000 years pre BCE to WWII remains. We visited 2 islands, cleverly timed to miss the busier sites when the cruise ships were in port, and were very lucky with the weather so the sea trips were calm. Our trusty leader, Caz, managed to find us different cafes every day for the delicious soup, sandwiches and fancies, to give us energy for the visits. In fact, Caz kept us so well looked after we had to nominate someone to act as the ‘Caz replacement’ when we were left on our own! The tour was one of the best we had ever been on, and we will recommend it to all our friends. We will also donate to the Swandro Coastal Archaeology charity to support the work of Caz and her partner. April 2018.

Click here to read our 2017 reviews

Orkney Archaeology Tours, 

Bayview, Birsay, Orkney, KW17 2LR  

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