Welcome to the Kirkwall Cruise Port Guide. Kirkwall is a small town with about 9000 inhabitants. It is the administration centre of the Orkney islands. At first sight it might look like the town has little to offer, but this is to the contrary. This is a charming old town that is easy to explore by foot. Kirkwall is the heart of the Orkney islands just off the coast of Scotland. The Orkney islands are a unique archipelago that counts 70 islands. Only 30 of them are actually inhabited. All together there are about 20.000 people that live on the Orkney islands. The vikings already left their language, buildings and genes on the island, but its history goes further back than that. They say the Orkney islands contain the densest concentration of archeological sites in Great Britain. These islands have been inhabited for thousands of years. The neolithic people started to leave their traces about 5000 years ago. Of all the archeological sites the 4 most well known are commonly referred to as the “Neolithic heart of Orkney”. They are listed on the UNESCO world heritage list because of their extreme beauty and educational value. ‘ The archeological sites, distillery, castles and old town is what makes Kirkwall a great cruise destination. Find out where your ship will dock or drop anchor underneath and what there is to see and do on the island.
In the south you will find the Churchill Barriers. They are great causeways built by Italian prisoners of war during World War II as anti-submarine barriers. The bay was the main base of the Royal Navy during WWI and WWII. Go with a guide to get the picture behind the operations that took place here. Scala flow lies 16 mile south of the port. The ride includes a crossing on ferry.
Across the St. Magnus Cathedral you will find some medieval structures in ruines. The Kirkwall castle, Bishop’s palace and Earl’s palace stand side by side. It is a great location to learn more about historic Kirkwall.
2 km out of town you will find the Highland Distillery. They have a visitors centre for tourists and also give guide tours throughout the day. Visit their website for the exact hours: http://highlandpark.co.uk/visit/
This is the best location to get an amazing impression on life in the Neolithic period. In 1850 a storm hit the Orkney Islands and uncovered a neolithic village. Archeologists were able to put together the puzzle pieces of how these people used to live: their farmings methods, their engineering techniques and living habits. There are 7 different houses. All are connected to each other and they are even fairly comfortable if you have a close look. It gives a fascinating and tangible inside look to what the stone age was all about. Skara Brae lies 17 mile west of the port.
One of the most famous archeological sites is the Ring of Brodgar. It is one of the oldest and largest stone henge moment found on the British Isles. 27 stones of 60 stones still stand here today. 60 stones at a 6 degree angle make up a perfect 360 degree circle. It must have been a huge engineering project during those days. There must have been a large community that had put this together for one common purpose. The Ring of Brodgar lies 11,5 mile west of the port.
This archeological site is where you find 4 standing stones. Originally it would have been 12 stones. They believe this to be the oldest of the henge monuments, although the site was never finished. This site lies 10,5 mile west of the port.
The eye-catcher of the town of Kirkwall would be the St. Magnus Cathedral. It is constructed in 1137 and is still in use today. There is something very mysterious about this cathedral. The sad look, combined with the old graveyard and unusual stones make a unique church. Find it in the middle of town.