In this enquiry we will be comparing these two areas, looking at maps and considering the human and physical features. Use this page to find out more.
Orkney also known as the Orkney Islands is an archipelago in northern Scotland 16 kilometres (10 mi) north of the coast of Caithness. Orkney comprises approximately 70 islands, of which 20 are inhabited.The largest island, Mainland often referred to as “the Mainland”, is the sixth largest Scottish island and the tenth-largest island in the British Isles. The largest settlement and administrative centre is Kirkwall.
The name “Orkney” dates back to the 1st century BC or earlier, and the islands have been inhabited for at least 8,500 years. Originally occupied by Mesolithic and Neolithic tribes and then by the Picts, Orkney was invaded and forcibly annexed by Norway in 875 and settled by the Norse. The Scottish Parliament then re-annexed the earldom to the Scottish Crown in 1472, following the failed payment of a dowry for James III’s bride, Margaret of Denmark. Orkney contains some of the oldest and best-preserved Neolithic sites in Europe, and the “Heart of Neolithic Orkney” is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In addition to the Mainland, most of the islands are in two groups, the North and South Isles, all of which have an underlying geological base of Old Red Sandstone. The climate is mild and the soils are extremely fertile, most of the land being farmed. Agriculture is the most important sector of the economy and the significant wind and marine energy resources are of growing importance. The local people are known as Orcadians and have a distinctive Scots dialect and a rich inheritance of folklore. There is an abundance of marine and avian wildlife.
Click the picture below to watch a video of Orkney.
- Skara Brae is one of the best preserved Neolithic settlements anywhere in Western Europe. It is located on the Orkney Islands, which lie off the north east tip of Scotland.
- The site, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, is older than the pyramids and Stonehenge. It was built and occupied between about 3180 BC and 2500 BC.
- The site was first unearthed in 1850, after a storm exposed some of the ruins. However, it was wasn’t thoroughly excavated until the 1920s when another storm demolished one of the houses.
- Hundreds of artifacts have been excavated at Skara Brae, including knives, rope, small bowls, ivory pins and decorative beads. Red dye found there indicates that body painting may have been common.
- The houses at Skara Brae use a sophisticated drainage system and even had their own toilets. The homes also had beds, chairs, dressers and cupboards, although no windows.
- The settlement may have been abandoned suddenly, perhaps because of a storm. Archaeologists have found the remains of the inhabitants’ last meals, often prime meat dishes.
- The people who lived in the settlement raised cattle and sheep, and also ate a lot of seafood in their diet.
- Some archaeologists also believe that the inhabitants were skilled astronomers.
- The monuments in Skara Brae were aligned to the sunrise and sunset, meaning that the sun and the moon were probably important.
- It’s believed that the inhabitants may have worshipped a spirit of the sea.
- A special stone was unveiled in Skara Brae in April, 2008. It commemorated the anniversary of the first man to orbit the earth, Yuri Gagarin, in 1961.
- There are several other prehistoric sites on the Orkney Islands, which are similar to Skara Brae. The buildings at Knap of Howar are believed to be the oldest preserved standing buildings in Northern Europe.
Click here to go on an archaeological exploration of Skara Brae.
Click the picture below to explore Skara Brae.
Click here to see artefacts found from Skara Brae
North West England
North West England is bounded to the east by the Peak District and the Pennines and to the west by the Irish Sea. The region extends from the Scottish Borders in the north to the West Midlands region in the south. To its southwest is North Wales. Amongst the better known of the North West’s physiographical features are the Lake District and the Cheshire Plain. The highest point in North West England (and the highest peak in England) is Scafell Pike, Cumbria, at a height of 3,209 feet (978 m).
A mix of rural and urban landscape, two large conurbations, centred on Liverpool and Manchester, occupy much of the south of the region. The north of the region, comprising Cumbria and northern Lancashire, is largely rural, as is the far south which encompasses parts of the Cheshire Plain and Peak District.
The region includes parts of three National parks (all of the Lake District, and small parts of the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales) and three areas of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (all of Arnside and Silverdale and the Solway Coast, and almost all of the Forest of Bowland).
Click here to visit some of the key areas of the North West or click the picture below to watch a video of the North West.