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Rousay is one of the Orkney Islands, in the North of Scotland.



Rousay is known as the Egypt of the North because of its concentration of archaological treasures. A cycle ride around the island in good weather makes a rewarding day.

Get in[edit]

By boat[edit]

Regular Orkney Ferries [1] travel between Tingwall on the Mainland (Orkney) of Orkney and Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre.

Buses meet several of the ferries, travelling on to Kirkwall (all year) and Stromness (June - September).

Get around[edit]

By bus[edit]

A public bus service [2] operates on the island, every Thursday, 7am-7pm. This on-request service must be booked in advance.

By Bike[edit]

Cycling is a good way to get around the island (a circuit of about 20km/13 miles).

Bicycle Hire can be arranged at Trumland Hostel, 5 minutes west of the Ferry Terminal. Telephone: 01856 821252.


RAFT Services [3] is a provider of taxis and minibus hires on the island of Rousay. Telephone: 01856 821360.

See[edit][add listing]

The prehistoric ruins detailed here are all located on the south-west coast of Rousay next to the road. They are described in the order you meet them as you go away from the ferry port.

  • Taversoe Tuick is an unusual two-storey neolithic cairn. The upper level is covered by a concrete dome and you climb down to the lower level.
  • Blackhammer is a quite long stalled neolithic chambered cairn with seven compartments, spolied slightly by the concrete roof.
  • The Knowe of Yarso further along the road is set a short walk above the road with attractive views across the straits. It is another long-ish 4 stalled stalled cairn with a less intrusive roof.
  • Midhowe Cairn is a huge stalled tomb, lying parallel to the shore further along the coast. Known by archaeologists as *The Great Ship of Death it is perhaps one of the most significant prehistoric sites in Orkney.

The cairn's outer wall-face was carefully arranged in a herringbone pattern. The tomb is now protected under a shed and its sophisticated structure can be viewed also from a overhead walkway. The rectangular burial chamber, 23.4m long, is divided by pairs of upright slabs into 12 compartments. Along the eastern wall of the compartments the remains of 25 people were found. Some of them had been exposed prior to burial to remove the flesh. Several compartments are provided with stone benches. Pottery recovered from the chamber is of the so called Unstan type.

A hundred metres to the west is the iron age Midhowe broch.

  • Midhowe Broch is the best example of a broch in Orkney. It was excavated in the early 1930s by W.Grant. The remains of this broch still stand to over 4 metres and it might have been up to 13 metres high when first built. The broch was built in close association with a small village, the remains of which can still be seen outside the walls of the defensive structure.It differs from most brochs in having two large "rooms" protected within its large fortified walls, each with their own hearth, beds and other signs of domesticity. There is a communal well beneath the floor of the more westerly room.

Do[edit][add listing]

Eat & Drink[edit]

  • The Pier [4] is a friendly restaurant, bar and shop opposite the Ferry Terminal. Telephone: 01856 821359.
  • The Taversoe [5] is a public bar and restaurant, with food served all day. Situated opposite Knowe of Yarso. Telephone: 01856 821325.

Sleep[edit][add listing]


  • Trumland Hostel [6] is a 3-star hostel, with camping facilities. Trumland Farm, 5 minutes west of the Ferry Terminal. Telephone: 01856 821252.


  • Greenfield B&B [7] is a modern, friendly Bed and Breakfast just 5 minutes walk from the Ferry Terminal.
  • Taversoe Hotel [8] is a small hotel offering stunning views over the Eynhallow Sound towards the Mainland of Orkney.

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Marion's Shop [9] is an incredibly well-stocked small, local shop with fresh, frozen and dry/tinned goods. Telephone: 01856 821365.

Stay safe[edit]

Get out[edit]

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