Making use of the vacant Stenness Day Centre, the new visitor hub will feature a shuttle bus service for tourists travelling to the nearby Maeshowe Chambered Cairn site, with hourly supervised tours from knowledgeable staff ensuring both access to the site and a high quality visitor experience.
The project has been a real community effort with invaluable input from Orkney Islands Council, Stenness Community Council, World Heritage site partners, and Head teacher, Bruce Pilkington and the Parent Teachers Association at the nearby Stenness Community School.
The new centre boasts improved visitor and staff facilities, wheelchair access, parking and new interpretation materials. There will also be a new gift shop selling a wide range of souvenirs of Maeshowe and Orkney as well as locally made products including jewellery and textiles.
The attraction also plans to introduce virtual reality headsets to give visitors a truly immersive introduction to the site. Access to Maeshowe will continue to be by guided tour only, and as with the previous visitor centre, coaches will not be permitted without prior arrangement.
Lucy Vaughan, Head of Conservation North at Historic Environment Scotland said;
We’re delighted to be opening the new Maeshowe Visitor Centre in Stenness in time for the Summer season starting.
“The centre will offer improved facilities for both visitors and staff, including wheelchair accessibility throughout, a new shop and car parking. It’s also fantastic to be able to bring an existing, local building back into use which provides the best use of space and meets the needs of the community. We’re now all set-up to make the coming season a successful one.”
Sian Evans, Island & World Heritage Visitor Services Manager added: “It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to utilise the former day centre in Stenness, and have this facility in the heart of the community. We’re also pleased the majority of work to develop the building has been awarded to local contractors, including our new shuttle bus operator, Orkney Community Transport Organisation.
“With everything now in place, our staff can’t wait to welcome visitors from all over the world as they enjoy the new, improved facilities that will further enhance the special experience of visiting Maeshowe.”
About Maeshowe Chambered Cairn
- Visitors to Maeshowe are advised to purchase/reserve tickets online in advance (including Historic Scotland Members and Explorer/Orkney Pass holders) and to arrive 15 minutes before their tour time to pick up tickets.
- Maeshowe, a monumental chambered tomb, is the finest Neolithic building to survive in north-west Europe. Built around 5,000 years ago, it is a masterpiece of Neolithic design and construction – not least because of its use of massive stones.
About Historic Environment Scotland (HES)
Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017
2017 is the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology (HHA), a year that will celebrate Scotland’s people, our distinct culture and traditions, our historic landscapes, attractions and icons as well as our hidden gems and amazing stories. From World Heritage Sites to ancient monuments, listed buildings to historic battlefields, cultural traditions to our myths, stories and legends, 2017 is the year to explore Scotland’s fascinating past. This is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland and a variety of partners.
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