The Brough of Birsay is an uninhabited tidal island off the north-west coast of The Mainland of Orkney, Scotland, in the parish of Birsay. It is located around 13 miles north of Stromness and features the remains of Pictish and Norse settlements as well as a modern light house.Geography and geologyThe island is accessible on foot at low tide via a largely natural causeway. It is separated from the mainland by a 240 metre stretch of water at high tide: the Sound of Birsay.The Norse settlement has been partly removed by coastal erosion, and the cliffs are reinforced by concrete rip-rap to prevent further damage.EtymologyThe Old Norse name for the island was "Byrgisey" which means fort island, and gives the parish its name. Brough, indeed, means fort (for etymology, see broch).Take a look at our Birsay tourist route planner to schedule your visit to Brough Of Birsay and learn about what else to see and do during your holiday.
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The brough (I thought it was spelt Broch) of birsay is a delightful little island approached only when the tide allows it on a wee causeway. Home to a viking settlement, it's another jewell in Orkney'... more »
This site is not so easy to reach as it is accessible only at low tide. 25 years ago, I walked over and was able to visit the fascinating buildings of this amazing Viking village. This time, I was not... more »
Walking across the inlet at low tide, arriving in the early mist and open-jawed at the mind-boggling life of nearly 5,000 years ago. The September greenery covering the hills protects this incredible ... more »
This is a small island which turns into a peninsula for a few hours every day around low tide. You have to find out the time of low tide on the day you want to visit, and make sure to be there a couple of hours before, when the water level goes low enough to allow you to walk over on a concrete footpath. We actually arrived ~2.5 h before low tide and it was already possible to walk over, so 2 hours is not a hard and fast rule, but rather an approximate time frame. Just make sure you get back over to the mainland before the tide rises high enough to cover the footpath. Once there, there are some ruins to see at the bottom, and a lighthouse at the top of the hill. Walk up along the left side of the archaeological site, but back down along the other side, where you'll pass along the top of some cliffs with breathtaking views. There's an entry fee, but it's included in the Orkney Explorer pass (worth taking if you plan to visit at least 2-3 sites during your stay -- which you should!).
This is the first spot we saw puffins so we are somewhat biased towards this place being amazing. If you come in the shoulder season you don't need to pay to enter the park which is a nice small benefit. The hike out across the barrier at low tide is quick and easy and the walk around the actual island is a must. The ruins are interesting but the beautiful cliff line around the island is definitely the highlight.
Great place - tidal island reached by a causeway at low-tide, with spectacular cliff-scenery and both norse and iron-age archaeological remains
A tidal island: the spot is similar to Holy Island but here the distance is not so long and you can simply walk through the seabed. The island was an ancient village of the Viking and you can appreciate their level of civilization which was not so rough..they had a sauna room!
Put on your walking shoes and enjoy.
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