Bringing pre-history to lifeBringing pre-history to life in South Ronaldsay


Down at the Tomb of the Eagles, we have always been keen on bringing Orkney’s ancient past to life through the visitor centre talks and artefacts. Once again, Mark Keighley, archaeological technologist, returns to Orkney to bring a new dimension to the experience.


Mark specialises in making tools and other everyday items made by Neolithic people thousands of years ago, using only the materials and technology available to them. His hand-made bows and harpoons are on display in our new Mesolithic Orkney room, which opened earlier this year, and Mark has also made replica clothes from animal hide for the Neolithic display.


Mark will be at the Tomb of the Eagles visitor centre every day, from Wednesday 5th to Friday 7th June, to give demonstrations of a variety of traditional skills including flint knapping. This task requires great skill and a thorough understanding and feel for the structure of the stone. In minutes, Mark can produce a flint knife from a piece of rock, capable of cutting through deer hide more effectively than a razor-sharp penknife.


Visitors of all ages enjoy watching him at work, and may also get the chance to try their own hand at various tasks, such as bone carving and Stone Age string making.



Mesolithic Orkney GalleryNEW for 2013 - 'Mesolithic Orkney' gallery


A new exhibition is about the Mesolithic in Orkney brings to life the period before the Stone Age people settled and began farming here. It features cutting-edge research into the submerged landscape, visualising for the first time how Orkney may have looked when the first people are thought to have arrived here over 8000 years ago.


Using original illustrations, images and replica objects, the exhibition gives visitors an insight into how these nomadic hunter-gatherers are thought to have lived.



Archaeology Extravaganza in the South Parish!


On Friday 6 July, The Archaeology Department, Orkney College, UHI are holding an Open Day at their excavations of an important Iron Age site at The Cairns, South Ronaldsay. The dig will be open to all for free from 11.30am to 3pm.


Here at the tomb we will have Mark Keighley for four days of public demonstration of ancient craft. In particular, he will showing people how to add flights to arrows. Fletching arrows is a rare skill these days, but back in Mesolithic hunter gatherer times, it was an essential part of daily life. Mark’s arrows will be going on display in our new 'Mesolithic Orkney' room which will open here later this summer.


Mark will be at Tomb of the Eagles for four days, from Friday 6 July to Monday 9 July, from 10.30am until the centre closes at 5.30 each afternoon. Admission at Tomb of the Eagles is still at its normal price for these four special dates.


Cotton bagNEW FOR 2012 - our Tomb of the Eagles cotton bag.


Perfect for carrying all your bits and bobs! It has long strong handles so can be carried over the shoulder.


Made in the UK from unbleached and undyed cotton

Long Handle Cotton Eco-Bag

Screen printed one side

Bag 42h x 37w cm / handle 70cm


Available from the visitor Centre for £4.50 or mail order £6.50 (incl P+P)



NEW for SUMMER 2012 - 'Mesolithic Orkney' room


In this 10th anniversary year, a new exhibition is opening about Mesolithic life in Orkney. The exhibition brings to life the period before the Stone Age people settled and began farming in Orkney.


Evidence has been found of nomadic people, who came to Orkney as the environment changed following the last ice age. Through images and replica objects, visitors can learn about how these Mesolithic people are thought to have lived. The exhibition includes information about the latest research, which provides new insights into the very different landscape these people knew over 8,000 years ago.



The Tomb of the Eagles, in South Ronaldsay, has published a stunning new souvenir booklet. It tells the story of how the sites were discovered and how it has evolved into a must-see visitor attraction.


As well as telling the amazing story of how Ronnie Simison uncovered the sites, and how he and his wife Morgan began sharing their finds with visitors in the 1970s, the guide contains lots of fascinating detail to complement the Visitor Centre talks given by the family and their dedicated team today.
This includes the latest insights into how the people at Isbister may have lived thousands
of years ago.


A timeline sets the Bronze Age and Stone Age sites in context with Orkney and the rest of the world. There are photographs of the original excavations and many of the artefacts.


To ensure visitors enjoy all there is to see at the Tomb of the Eagles, the new booklet features pictorial guides to the wildlife and flowers people may see on the trail around the historic sites.


The Tomb of the Eagles souvenir guide is available from the Visitor Centre at £5.95 or by mail order.


UK - £7.00 (incl p&p)

Europe - £8.00 (incl p&p)

World - £9.50 (incl p&p)


For more information
Kathleen MacLeod or
Freda Norquay



Amazing archaeological discoveries are made all the time in Orkney - with new digs and research into the artefacts uncovered. For a summary of the latest developments visit ‘Orkney Archaeology news’, a site maintained by Sigurd Towrie, local journalist and Editor of The Orcadian.




Everything was great; presentation, sites and artefacts - well done!!

- Freya Saney -


Really well set out centre, great to be able to touch the artefacts and the archaeology. Facinating. Many thanks.

- Richard, Julie Daniel King -


Absolutely amazing! My favourite place on Orkney! Great facilities too!

- The Carswell family -


One of the most interesting and informative centres we have visited with very knowledgable and helpful staff

- Dr Steve Alsop -


Enjoyed freedom to look round sites unaccompanied

- Jan Cormaish -


Excellent and wonderful opportunity to handle artefacts

- Tina Ng A Mann -


Brilliant dramatic scenery, fabulous loos, great folk!!!

- Celia & John Williams -


Amazing. My dream place!

- Jan Elkins -