Investigating the old shoreline of Kirkwall


Discovering Hidden Kirkwall is part of The Kirkwall Townscape Heritage Initiative Archaeological Programme. The University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute have been given the go ahead to commence the first stage of a geophysical survey to investigate the old shoreline of Kirkwall.

The project is a community focused archaeological project in which volunteers will receive training in the use of geophysical survey techniques including Magnetometry, Earth Resistance and Ground Penetrating Radar. The proposed location of the initial survey will help to answer the following research questions:

  1. What is the location, character and depth of the former shoreline and piers to the west of the town centre of Kirkwall (between Broad Street and Junction Road)
  2. Is there any evidence for the former layout of the museum gardens ?
  3. Do remains of the range of buildings depicted on the 1882 Ordnance Survey map in the southern part of the museum gardens survive below ground level. What is the character and depth of these remains where they do survive?

These questions will be addressed in the first instance by employing the geophysics survey in the Orkney Museum and RBS Bank Gardens.

We need 6 local volunteers to help in the geophysics, res, GPR and Mag survey on the 21st and 22nd April. Hours 10am to 4pm. In return you will receive training in geophysics techniques. Contact:

Community Mapping Walk

The walk meets at 2pm at the Stones of Stenness car park on Sunday 6 March. Transport between the two sites will be provided – so no need to walk both ways. For more information please contact the Orkney Rangers on 01856 841 732 or email

Orkney locals are being invited to take part in a fun, organised walk through the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage site, as part of a project to create a ‘Community Map’ – which will record memories, sounds, stories and smells, rather than just the conventional roads and directions.

The finished map will be available online as a free download so that people can learn what matters to Orcadians about their World Heritage Site, and the hope is to produce a print leaflet version in future. 

The walk takes place on Sunday 6 March, and is being organised by Historic Environment Scotland and Dan Lee of the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, based at Orkney College. The stroll is aimed at people of all ages, who will be led by the World Heritage Site Rangers through the landscape between the stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar.

Alice Lyall, World Heritage Site coordinator for Historic Environment Scotland said: “We know that the World Heritage Site means a lot to the Orkney Community, so I would encourage them to come and tell us specifically what aspects are important to them, and why. The community map concept is a great way to do this, as it is a medium which allows feelings and ideas to be expressed and recorded in an accessible and engaging way.”

“As well as being a worthwhile project, the walk will be led by our expert guides, and promises to be a lot of fun, so why not come along and share your favourite memories?”

As well as Sunday’s walk, Stenness Primary School at the West Mainland Day Centre will be contributing their memories and experiences to the map.

Historic Environment Scotland


The Big Day Out

The Archaeology Institute UHI organised a “Big Day Out” for the whole of Kirkwall Grammar School S1 (125 pupils) visited the World Heritage main sites for the day on the 12th May 2015.

Events were held at the main sites with a number of 20min workshops at each:

  • Ring of Brodgar (walkover survey/GPS mapping, geophysics, field recording the stones)
  • Skara Brae (Bones workshops – IM, Easter Island filming and interviews)

The event was a great success as the students engaged with the environment and the methods involved with archaeology. Due to this success the event is pencilled in for next year !

Songs of Hoy

The 1982 film “Songs of Hoy” with the music of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and starring the children of Hoy is being shown on Friday 27th November in Hoy Kirk. There will be soup and sandwiches and an illustrated talk by Dan Lee on recent and planned archaeology projects in Hoy. Everyone will be welcome. Orkney ferries from Stromness 5.45pm and back at 10pm586 Hoy talk 271115