After returning home with a cold and tired from jet lag, I spent two days thinking about and writing this review. My gosh, it turned out to be 13 pages! So here goes, I will put it online in pieces since it is so long. In my defense, it was an almost 4 week trip, with a pre-cruise stop.
Review of Viking Jupiter UK cruise and pre-cruise Zurich trip July/August 2019
We booked a trip on the Viking Jupiter, going around the UK, beginning in Greenwich, London, UK and ending in Bergen, Norway.
Exceptional, information included in body of review
Feeling refreshed and ready to go again after our self made sea day, our next port of call was the Orkney Islands. We had booked on recommendation with a private tour company and David was there to meet us. We had a lot of Neolithic places to visit and got right on the road. This was one of our most interesting days and we learned the most. First off we visited a working archaeological site, the Ness of Brodgar, with students from Williamette University in Oregon. This site, discovered in 2002, is unearthing a Neolithic cathedral, a massive complex of monumental Neolithic buildings along with associated artwork, pottery, bones and stone tools from 2500 BC. Pretty fascinating to think of the knowledge and complexity of this civilization so long ago. All the sites in the area are believed to be connected, and this thin strip of land is between Loch Harray, freshwater, and Loch Stenness, a sea loch. This site is between the Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Stenness. We then went over to the Standing Stones of Stenness and we were able to walk among them and touch them. These are the oldest henge site in Britain, even older than Stonehenge. It is believed that at one time there were 12 stones in the circle, there are four today. We then moved on to the Ring of Brodgar, which has 36 surviving stones out of 60. This site has a large rock-cut ditch surrounding the site and we could only walk around it. It has never been excavated and was scheduled in 1882, one of the first places to be protected as a site of historical significance in the British Isles. The erection and construction of the site would have required considerable manpower and organization. There had been much rain in the proceeding weeks and the heather was blooming everywhere. We then moved on to Skara Brae, a Neolithic village. It is charmingly set up so that as you walk the path towards the site stones mark highlights in history in a timeline as you travel back 5000 years. It was uncovered by a storm in 1850. The homes have stone beds, dressers and seats. The structures of this semi-subterranean village are in impressive condition. Most telling, among all the artifacts, no weapons have been found. Although, among the hand tools, pottery and jewelry, gaming dice were discovered. The visitor center had a small café and we stopped for a quick snack and coffee before heading into Skaill House. This is a 17th century mansion, originally built in 1620 by Bishop George Graham. This house was lived in by a succession of relatives for over 400 years. We saw an original Orkney chair here and it was just as beautiful as the day it was made. Our last stop was at Maeshowe, which is a Neolithic chambered cairn and passage grave. It was probably built about 2800 BC. It is aligned so that the rear wall of the chamber is illuminated on the winter solstice. The modern opening was in 1861, and the workmen discovered Norse runes, proof that Norsemen had broken in probably in the 12th century. Their runic inscriptions are like modern day graffiti. This was such an interesting and informative day, and David did an amazing job of explaining it to us in laymen’s terms so we were not overwhelmed.