The first place to visit had of course to be Jarlshof and that was the first site we stopped at the following morning. This is an amazing site with remains from the neolithic period right up to the medieval and later with everything in between.
The oldest part of the site dating from the neolithic is mostly overlayed with later constructions and a balance has had to be struck with exposing the earliest remains whilst conserving the later constructions where the land has been reused.
We started in the oldest part. The houses are poorly preserved compared with those at Skara Brae in Orkney but are believed to be similar.
From the neolithic we moved on to the pictish Broch which is partially lost to the sea and the relatively well preserved "wheel houses", shaped like the name suggests, a wheel with rooms arranged around a circular central living area.
The final development was the laird's house ( the large rectangular building in the first photograph) which is literally just plonked on the top of everything else. It has no foundations and just sits there. It was converted to a fortified house by Robert Stewart ( First Earl of Orkney). There is a staircase up to the top to allow a panoramic view from the top. However with no shelter from the arctic gale and more snow being blown horizontally at me I was in no mood to linger at the top!
Across the road from Jarlshof is Scatness, which is another iron age broch and village. This was unfortunately closed during our stay but it is very visible from the road and as it was no warmer than Jarlshof we were happy to take a few pictures and move back to the warmth of the car.
This has been partially reconstructed to give an idea of what it might have been like. Again the village was inhabited for a long period of time with later constructions being superimposed on the original buildings.