Rousay

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Rousay (Old Norse: Hrólfsey meaning Rolf's Island) is a small, hilly island about 3 km (2 miles) north of Orkney's Mainland, off the north coast of Scotland, and has been nicknamed "the Egypt of the north", due to its tremendous archaeological diversity and importance.

It is separated from mainland Orkney by the Eynhallow Sound, and, like its neighbours Egilsay and Wyre, can be reached by a ro-ro ferry (MV Eynhallow) from Tingwall, on the mainland of Orkney, which takes 20–25 minutes. This service is operated by Orkney Ferries, and can take up to 95 passengers (reduced to 50 in winter), and 10 cars. The ferry links the islands of Rousay, Egilsay, and Wyre with each other, and with the mainland of Orkney.[7]

Contents

Geography and natural history

In the 2001 census, it had a population of 212 people. Most employment opportunities are in farming, fishing or fish-farming; there are also craft businesses and some seasonal tourism-related work. There is one circular road round the island, about 23 kilometres (14 mi) long, and most arable land lies in the few hundred yards between this and the coastline. With an area of 4,860 hectares (18.8 sq mi), it is the fifth largest of the Orkney Islands.

Rousay is a 'Site of Special Scientific Interest' with notable cliff formations and wildflower colonies, and has an RSPB bird reserve. The hilliest Orkney island after Hoy, it offers good views of neighbouring islands from Blotchnifiold 249 metres (817 ft), and Keirfea or Knitchen (both over 229 metres (750 ft)).

Summertime brings visitors drawn by its natural beauty and wildlife, including Rousay's seals and otters, and by its archaeological remains, especially the cluster of important sites connected by a footpath near the western shore.

History

The island has evidence from every stage in the history of Orkney, with a Neolithic settlement at Rinyo, Bronze Age burnt mounds, Iron Age crannogs and brochs (the highest density anywhere in Scotland: three within 500 metres (547 yd) of coastline), Viking boat burials, remains of a medieval church and the stately home at Trumland.

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