I am writing this on the ferry transporting the tour group from Egilsay to Tingwall on final leg of today’s tour.
This morning we departed our Kirkwall base and drove to Broch of Gurness which is a settlement spanning the period 1st century BC to 9th C AD. This site has the most extensive and well-preserved domestic buildings surrounding a broch anywhere in Scotland and a long history of Pictish and Viking era occupation.
A broch is a type of building unique to Scotland. Such a building usually comprises a tall, conical tower invariably positioned on a prominent coastal location. Although built with defence in mind, brochs were essentially high status dwellings at the heart of communities.
After Gurness we drove to Tingwall to catch the 11.55 ferry for the one hour trip to Egilsay which stopped en-route at Rousay and thus permitted a brief exploration of the island. Here we visited Trumland House and garden both of which are work in process reconstruction projects following a period of abandonment due to a major fire.
We duly re-connected with the ferry and then moved on to our destination of Egilsay. Here our main objective was the 12th century church dedicated to St. Magnus. This church is one of the few examples of a round tower outside Ireland. A similar tower exists on the mainland of Scotland at Abernethy.
The church was built close to the site where Magnus Erlendsson, Earl of Orkney was killed as recounted in the Orkneyinga Saga.
Egilsay is of interest to bird watchers, botanists and students of other wild life such as seals.
On the return trip we also called at Wyre and Rousay.
Weather this afternoon proved very windy with rain in the air. Due to ferry timings we had to spend a couple of hours in a community centre on Egilsay.