Muddy Archaeologist

Sign up

for the Free

Muddy Archaeologist email Newsletter

for the latest news and events


I promise never to pass your details to any third party

without your specific prior consent



Ancient History

Latin Classes





Illustrated Talks




For Schools





Other News


Contact Me










Gillian Hovell

is a


Accredited Lecturer


Member of

The Society of Authors


Copyright © Gillian Hovell



‘The Muddy Archaeologist’

is an identifying title

for Gillian Hovell,

independent freelance

Writer & Speaker,

historian and archaeologist


‘Visiting the Past Tours’

is the trading name of

Visiting the Past Ltd

 Registered Address:

212 Woodfield Rd


North Yorkshire

HG1 4JF  

Company No: 08315220

In association with


With thanks to

Bringing Colour, Depth and Meaning to Life today

by Digging Deep into History


“The Muddy Archaeologist is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to [The Muddy Archaeologist (].”


The MuddyArchaeologist’s Blog


Tombs – Settlements – Brochs – Standing Stones – Scenery, Botany & Birdlife


Guided by Gillian Hovell BA (Hons), author & archaeologist

Full time Tour Manager, Medieval Historian Liz Dent


Join us for this inspirational and comprehensive archaeological tour of the remote islands of

Orkney and Shetland, home to some of the best preserved prehistoric sites in Northern Europe.


Details: Gillian Hovell   email.  Tel: 01423 203516  Mob. 07860 637301  

Bookings:  Omega Holidays Ltd  Tel.01524 541 800


It is essential to quote Code VPT1 when booking

Organised by Omega Short Breaks Ltd. ABTA Y5914.



Demystify millennia of history as Gillian Hovell, author of Visiting the Past, brings to life the monumental Neolithic, innovative Bronze Age and violent Iron Age: site visits, evening talks and illustrated fact sheets combine to make the enigmatic history of these far-flung islands both accessible and enjoyable.


Stunning scenery, wildlife and a trip on the world’s

shortest scheduled flight complement the fantastic archaeological narrative to make this a truly memorable holiday.


Starting on Shetland with Jarlshof’s microcosm of history to set the scene, we head to Orkney Mainland.

We visit the island of Rousay, crammed full of archaeology, and take a trip to Papa Westray’s unique Neolithic homes at Knap o’Howar on this breathtaking island.  We explore awe-inspiring sites from every prehistoric age across the length and breadth of Orkney’s mainland, including the Brodgar complex and the World Heritage Site of the Neolithic village of Skara Brae. Our grand finale takes us to an exclusive visit to the new excavations of a very special broch at Windwick Bay and the beauty of the cliff-top birdlife, botany and archaeology at the Tomb of the Eagles.  



· Full-time Guide, providing after-dinner talks and illustrated summary of each site’s historical setting

· Full time Tour Manager

· All admission fees

· 2 nights with cabin, dinner and breakfast on ferry (Aberdeen to Shetland and return from Orkney to Aberdeen)

· 7 nights Bed and Breakfast at Stromness Hotel, overlooking the picturesque harbour. (A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement  £tbc)

· 1 evening meal on Shetland-Orkney ferry, 6 evening meals at Stromness Hotel and 1 in Kirkwall

· 8 light lunches while on tour

· All excursion ferries

· Luxury Coach travel and transfers on Orkney and Shetland.

· All rooms en suite, with TV and tea and coffee making facilities

Jarlshof – Old Scatness - Rousay – Knap o’Howar – Links of Noltland Stones of Stenness – Maes Howe – Ring of Brodgar – Barnhouse Village

Cuween Hill Cairn – Skara Brae  - Rennibister Earthhouse

Broch of Gurness – Brough of Birsay – Windwick Bay Broch

Tomb of the Eagles – Liddle Burnt Mound – and more …


Not just a Guided Tour – A Visit into the Past


Details: Gillian Hovell   email.   Tel: 01423 203516  Mob. 07860 637301  

Bookings: Omega Holidays Ltd   

Tel.01524 541 800


It is essential to quote ref. VPT1 when booking

Organised by Omega Short Breaks Ltd. ABTA Y5914.





Day 1:  Cruise      We meet at the Aberdeen ferry port for our overnight Northlink ferry to Shetland.  Evening dinner on board gives us the chance to settle in and a brief but lively talk by Gillian sets the scene for our tour.


Day 2:  Shetland – Through the Millennia      We wake up in Lerwick on the Shetland islands, a land of cliffs, puffins and ponies.  Sumburgh bird sanctuary is our first stop, followed by Jarlshof, a breathtaking site which encompasses a myriad of ages, from the distant Neolithic to the Viking age and beyond.  After lunch at Sumburgh Hotel, Old Scatness provides an Iron Age experience before we drive to a viewpoint where we can look across to Mousa Broch, the largest surviving Iron Age broch in the world.  Time permitting, we view the archaeological finds at Lerwick’s Shetland Museum before boarding our ferry to Orkney in the late afternoon,.  Dinner on board and a briefing to whet our appetites for tomorrow. We arrive late evening at Mainland Orkney and book into Stromness Hotel overlooking the picturesque harbour.


Day 3: the island of Rousay - Back to the Stone Age   We take the ferry at Tingwall for the short journey to the island of Rousay. Here we visit brochs and stalled cairns to introduce us to the prehistoric ways of life and death.  We crawl into Taversoe Tuick and Blackhammer Cairn and a steep walk down to the shore takes us to our packed lunch break at Midhowe Cairn and Midhowe Broch.  After the ascent back to the coach we drive past Wasbister Loch (the site of Iron Age crannogs) and on past Saviskaill Beach, a common spot for seals before returning by ferry for dinner and evening talk at our hotel.

Day 4:  Papa Westray & Westray - At Home in the Neolithic   We rise early to take the ferry from Kirkwall to Westray.  Here we experience the wild remoteness of the northern islands and a puffin site.   If the excavations are still being funded, we are privileged to visit the live dig where the iconic Venus of Orkney Neolithic figurine was found at the Links of Noltland and visit the finds in the Westray Heritage Museum.  Packed lunch today and plenty of time to relax and enjoy the surroundings as we take a trip to Papa Westray o visit Knap o’Howar’s astonishing Neolithic homes, the oldest in Northern Europe.  A stunning coastal walk down the island brings us to one of the sandy beaches where we relax before taking the ferry back to Kirkwall and drive back to Stromness Hotel for dinner and evening talk.


Day 5: Skara Brae & Stromness A short drive takes us to a tour of the World Heritage Site of unforgettable Neolithic Skara Brae before we follow the ancient route back across the Ness of Brodgar.  We return to the hotel for a relaxed afternoon in Stromness before our evening briefing and dinner at the hotel.


Day 6: Orkney Mainland - Neolithic Ritual   A day enjoying stones, mounds and a temple complex.

The Stones of Stenness greet us as we enter this ritual landscape and we tour the awe-inspiring burial mound of Maes Howe with its corbelled roof and later Viking graffiti.  Barnhouse Neolithic Settlement nestles in the centre of these wonders and after our packed lunch we are treated to a tour of the Ring of Brodgar by the local Ranger and a talk about  the recently unearthed Ness of Brodgar ‘temple’.  We head to our hotel for dinner & Gillian’s short evening briefing to prepare us for tomorrow.


Day 7:  Cuween, Rennibister & Kirkwall    A short drive gives us a chance to walk up the short steep path to Cuween Hill Cairn for a wonderful intimate burial mound and great view.  A trip to the Rennibister Earthhouse is followed by free time in Kirkwall.  Our late afternoon drive takes us back across the south side of the Mainland, along Scapa Flow, with plenty of time before dinner at our hotel and our evening briefing for tomorrow.


Day 8:  Broch of Gurness & Brough of Birsay - Prehistory to Picts   The Broch of Gurness lets us walk through the Iron Age and then we drive on to the west coast and have lunch on the shoreline before we walk across the causeway to the Brough of Birsay.  Here we journey on through the centuries with Pictish and Norse settlements.  A relaxed afternoon with a chance to see puffins.  We head back to the hotel in good time for dinner and a short evening briefing.


Day 9:  Mainland Orkney - The Three Ages   Heading east, we cross the Churchill Barriers and pause at the Italian Chapel and the nearby Orkney Wine Giftshop and coffee shop.  We drive on through South Ronaldsay before a short walk down the lane to our exclusive visit to the ground-breaking Windwick Bay broch dig.  After lunch, we encounter Bronze Age life at the Burnt Mound at the Tomb of the Eagles site.  A pleasant walk to the clifftops takes us to the Neolithic Tomb of the Eagles which we enter through the ancient corridor via the famous ‘trolley’.   A leisurely clifftop stroll gives us a chance to enjoy the birdlife, flowers and scenery of Orkney.

We spend the evening in Kirkwall and share dinner together before taking a late ferry from Kirkwall, with overnight cabins to Aberdeen.


Day 10:  Homeward Bound     Arrival at Aberdeen ferry port in the early morning.



Itinerary subject to change due to circumstances beyond our control.

Please note most sites are on rough ground and stout footwear  and an element of personal mobility will be required


Not just a Guided Tour – A Visit into the Past



Details: Gillian Hovell   email.  

Tel: 01423 203516  Mob. 07860 637301  


Bookings:  Omega Holidays Ltd  Tel.01524 541 800


Tel.01524 541 800


It is essential to quote Code VPT1 when booking

Organised by Omega Short Breaks Ltd. ABTA Y5914.



Prehistoric Orkney and Shetland

Sunday 24th May - Tuesday 2nd June 2015

10 Days   £1,499.95

(limited number of single supplements available)


Guided by Gillian Hovell, ‘The Muddy Archaeologist’



In association with

‘Visiting the Past Tours’ is the trading name of Hovell & Dent Ltd

 Registered Address: Rays Farm, Smelthouses, Harrogate HG3 4DJ,  Company No: 08315220



You might also like tours to:


Prehistoric Ireland

Hadrian’s Wall

Roman Britain: Springs & Spas

Roman York

Here’s what out guests said after our last Tour:


‘A million thanks to you for a fantastic, memorable holiday’


‘Most enjoyable with fantastic archaeology, history & wildlife.’



‘We’ve been looked after exceptionally well. Many thanks!’


Contact Me

I shall ALWAYS reply.  






Talk/Event Managers



Ancient History




Tour/Cruise Organisers







Go on and explore


Special Pages for


Tours - Pompeii & Herculaneum - Prehistoric Orkney & Shetland - Roman Britain: Edge of Empire- Prehistoric Ireland - Roman York


Please consider joining us next year, in 2016