A £60,000 research project is to be undertaken to create a ‘Neolithic Landscapes of the Dead’ chambered tomb trail in Orkney.
The initiative aims to connect historic monuments across the North Isles, some of which are currently rarely visited.
In 1999, a number of sites and monuments on Orkney’s Mainland were awarded World Heritage Site status, including Skara Brae.
This listing has raised the archaeological profile of Mainland Orkney and resulted in an increase in tourism.
This contrasts with the picture emerging in the North Isles of Orkney, where communities have not seen such an obvious benefit from the UNESCO World Heritage listing.
A spokeswoman for Orkney Islands Council said: “The Neolithic archaeology of Orkney is outstanding and includes some of the most important sites in North West Europe.
“There is a wealth of Neolithic archaeology in Orkney’s North Isles and this includes numerous burial tombs – many that have not been excavated using contemporary techniques.
“Some of these tombs have little or no interpretation associated with them and are visited relatively infrequently.
“The project will provide an opportunity for isles residents to assist in archaeological research and learn about the Neolithic tombs on their island.
“Community engagement opportunities could include evening classes or workshops, training days and walks and talks.
“The research will form the basis for interpretation material that may take a digital or physical form and that highlights tombs across the isles. The interpretation could take the form of a ‘Neolithic Landscapes of the Dead’ trail.”
The group of monuments that make up the Heart of Neolithic Orkney consists of a remarkably well-preserved settlement, a large chambered tomb, and two stone circles with surrounding henges, together with a number of associated burial and ceremonial sites.
The group constitutes a major relict cultural landscape graphically depicting life five thousand years ago in this remote archipelago.
The four monuments that make up the Heart of Neolithic Orkney are unquestionably among the most important Neolithic sites in Western Europe. These are the Ring of Brodgar, Stones of Stenness, Maeshowe and Skara Brae.
They provide exceptional evidence of the material and spiritual standards as well as the beliefs and social structures of this dynamic period of prehistory.