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17 June 2016

Discover Heart of Neolithic Orkney through Community’s Eyes

New map helps visitors see the World Heritage Site through the eyes of local residents

A general view of standing stones at the Ring of Brodgar.

Residents and visitors can now discover the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site through the eyes of the people who live and work in the area thanks to a new community map.

Pupils from Stenness Community School, Voluntary Action Orkney’s Connect project, users of the West Mainland Day Centre, and other members of the local community contributed their stories and memories to create a unique map of the World Heritage Site. Developed with support from Historic Environment Scotland and the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, the map is available digitally and as a limited print run.

Primary school pupil holding Heart of Neolithic Orkney map and flag

The map was designed by Orkney-based illustrator Iain Ashman, and incorporates images and stories of walks and wildlife sightings, myths and legends. It tells tales of giants and Vikings, reveals how the landscape has turned Orkney residents of all ages into ornithologists, and attests to the emotional connections people have with sites like The Ring of Brodgar, which has hosted birthdays and weddings and given solace at difficult times.

Alice Lyall, World Heritage Site coordinator for Historic Environment Scotland, said: “I’m really thrilled at how the map has turned out, it’s a fantastic resource for the local community and visitors from further afield. The map incorporates drawings and personal stories which bring to life the different ways the Heart of Neolithic Orkney affects the people who live here. With recurring themes including magic and nature, it shows how the site sparks people’s curiosity and imagination.

I’m sure this is going to be a really popular publication - after all, who better to highlight what matters to people about sites and the special stories behind them than those who live on Orkney?”

Dan Lee of the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, explained how the map was created: “The community map project started with a breezy walk from The Standing Stones of Stenness to the Ring of Brodgar back in March. Everyone had a clipboard and paper, and was asked to draw a map of the area marking on memories, stories, places and sounds. A wonderful range of contributions were collected, from memories of first visits to old place names and solstice experiences.

Heart of Neolithic Orkney Map

“Other memories of the area were collected during two sessions at the West Mainland Day Centre in Stenness village. Some of the older folk remembered playing at the stones and Skara Brae, and had family links to former custodians. The highlight of the project was the visit to Stenness Community School, where the children shared their stories and memories through some amazingly vibrant pictures and poems. Combined, these give us an inspiring snap shot of what the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site means to the local community, past and present, and provides a wonderful way of exploring this iconic landscape for the future.

“The University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute were thrilled to be part of this exciting project, which has captured how the heritage of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney is woven into the daily lives of the local community.”

The map is available to download from our website at www.historicenvironment.scot/orkney-community-map

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES)

  • As of the 1st October 2015, Historic Scotland and RCAHMS came together to form a new lead public body charged with caring for, protecting and promoting the historic environment. The new body Historic Environment Scotland (HES) will lead on delivering Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment, Our Place in Time.
  • Historic Scotland is a sub brand of HES.
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Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016

2016 is the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design (IAD). Through a series of exciting events and activity, the year will showcase Scotland's position as an "innovation nation", its outstanding built heritage, and its thriving, internationally acclaimed creative industries sector. This is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland and supported by a variety of partners.

Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016

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For further information

Grant Thomson
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
Direct Line: 0131 668 8074
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