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There is more to Orkney than its sky, however. It also houses the best collection of Neolithic ruins in Europe. Maes Howe is one of Kirkwall’s many not-to-be-missed sights. The ancient burial chamber predates the Pyramids by 3000 years. From the outside, it resembles a massive anthill. The inside is made up of stacks of flat stones, and I ponder how the ancient peoples carried them – weighing as much as 30 tonnes each – over a six-mile stretch. One theory has it that they glided the stones along roads built of seaweed.

Maes Howe is also linked to the Vikings, who broke into the tomb in 1153. Many left their own treasure in the form of ancient graffiti. Some are the runic equivalent to “Ofram was here”. Some are rude (“Thorni fucked. Helgi carved.”). 

Because the site is so delicate, guided tours are timed and spaces are limited. Reservations are a must.

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Spotting the Northern Lights in Orkney
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