Orkney Islands

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Massimo Telò
The Orkney Islands (Scottish Gaelic: Arcaibh) are an archipelago of over 70 islands some 10 miles (16 km) off the northern tip of Scotland. They've been settled since the Neolithic period, and a remarkable collection of standing stones, early settlements and burial cairns remain, with the area listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Orkney came under Norse rule from the 9th C, and only in 1472 did it become part of Scotland, so its culture was never Gaelic. Its soil, climate and scenery are also different: it lies on red sandstone, so it's mostly fertile, low-lying and green, with cows grazing and a shimmer of blue from the many lochs and sea inlets. It doesn't draw the clouds, rain and midges of Highland Scotland. The largest island Mainland, together with Hoy and the chain of small islands down to South Ronaldsay, enclose Scapa Flow, which in wartime was an important naval anchorage.
There is a Tourist Information Centre at Kirkwall bus station.

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