The flight into the Orkney Islands was amazing. Many of the neolithic ruins can be seen from the air, dotting the land. I visited several of the sites including Skara Brae, and Maeshowe, but the Ring of Brodgar was the highlight of the sites I visited.
It was rainy, windy, and freezing cold - so it was wonderful. I was very moved by the thought that human beings lived on these islands thousands of years ago - before the great pyramids of Egypt were built. Seeing the monuments of their ingenuity and accomplishments is moving. I wonder who they were and what they were like. What kinds of things did they think about, laugh about, and cry about?
One of the amazing and unexpected things about seeing the ruins is that many of them are situated on private property. In the case of the Unstan Burial Mound and many others the sites appear right in someone's back yard. Being from the United States where almost everything man made is just a few hundred years old (Pueblo not withstanding), it was amazing to see people going about their daily lives in the same way and on the same ground as there forebears have done for thousands of years.
When I travel, I always write in my journal at the end of the day. While in Kirkwall I did this every evening at The Shore Bar. The bartender, who asked to be called "AB", requested I write that he's "a big deal around here" if I am writing my memoirs. If you visit Kirkwall, be sure to visit The Shore Bar and ask for AB (his real name is Alan).