Discover the Delightful Wonders of Deerness

Deerness is not so much a town as it is a destination. This fascinating peninsula was once home to a cliff top settlement that defied the laws of nature. Today it is a very popular tourist destination and though you may have to travel here from one of the nearby cities or towns it is certainly worth taking the time to see. Deerness, Scotland, can be found on the eastern end of the East Mainland where it is linked to the mainland by a narrow area of sand known as Sandi Sands.

Most people start their tour of Deerness by visiting the The Gloup – a large sea cave which has caved-in creating a deep cleft which leads to the sea. There is a strong bridge which provides safe passage from one side of The Gloup to the other, but the rough-hewn stony passage leading around the cliff sides is somewhat more perilous. Care should be taken that visitors do not slip and fall whilst making their way around it. The cliff path from The Gloup is very pretty and will take you to the Brough (or broch) of Deerness. Situated on the southern side of Mull Head, the Brough of Deerness is the site of a prehistoric fortification. It is characterized by a large grassy mound with a shallow depression at the top. You may find it difficult to figure out what exactly it is you are looking at but then you will notice small signs of the settlement that once existed here.

Many feel that the Brough of Deerness was a iron-age clifftop fortification while others believe that it was a pre-Norse Christian settlement. Still others say that the remains found here date back to the First World War as Mull Head was used as a naval gunnery range. Whatever the case is, you will find at least one visible structure which was unearthed in the 1970s. The chapel remains date back to the pre-Norse period and were later again used during the Viking era making both of the first two analogies quite possible. It was later abandoned – likely after the neck of land connecting the cliff top to the mainland collapsed. The other humps and bumps of grass and earth likely cover more treasures and it is hard to tell exactly what this early settlement might have looked like.

Access is provided in the form of a parking area about a mile north of Skaill and many people also come to visit other attractions such as St Peter’s Pool which is a great bird spotting place. Birds and wildflowers can be found in abundance and visitors who are interested in such things will find that a trip to Deerness is an absolute delight.

back to Orkney