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Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site Management Plan opens for consultation

14 October 2013

The public’s views on the next five year Management Plan for the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site are being sought through an eight week public consultation, launched today (14th October 2013).

The partnership plan will provide a broad framework for the management, conservation and enhancement of the World Heritage Site from 2014-19.

The Heart of Neolithic Orkney represents one of the most important surviving Neolithic landscapes in Western Europe and is comprised of six sites that are masterpieces of design and construction: the Skara Brae settlement; the chambered tomb of Maeshowe and the Barnhouse Stone; the Stones of Stenness and the Watch Stone and the Ring of Brodgar and associated monuments.

The area became a World Heritage Site in 1999 and since then a group of partners comprising of Historic Scotland, Orkney Islands Council, the RSPB and Scottish Natural Heritage have worked together to safeguard the special qualities, values, authenticity and integrity of the Site.

Working in partnership,  these bodies have already delivered several key projects to protect and promote the site including the construction of a new pathway to improve pedestrian access between the monuments on the Stenness-Brodgar peninsula; holding an international symposium on research into Neolithic Orkney; and ensuring the World Heritage Site and Buffer Zone are protected by policies in the new Local Development Plan.

The publication of the plan follows a consultation with partners, stakeholders and the local community which took place at the beginning of the year.  This included facilitator-led workshops and a review of the delivery of the 2008-13 plan.

Alice Lyall, the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site Coordinator said:

“This is an extraordinary place, showcasing the creative genius of the Neolithic people who built and used the monuments 5000 years ago, predating both the pyramids and Stonehenge.  This plan is designed to safeguard the ‘Outstanding Universal Value’ of the Site, the aspects that make it so special and of importance not only to Orkney and to Scotland but to people all  around the world, for the future.

The site continues to fascinate as it is like entering into another world - the people who lived here and placed these stones remain shrouded in mystery.

“The plan outlines a vision and long term strategy for the site and identifies key issues for the 2014-19 period, proposing sustainable ways to tackle them. The consultation provides the public with the opportunity to have their say on how we do this over the next five years.”

Orkney Islands Council’s Development and Marine Planning Manager, Stuart West, said:

“The monuments that make up the World Heritage Site are very special and are valued highly by the people of Orkney and visitors alike. An up to date Management Plan and continued partnership working are of fundamental importance to ensuring that the site is effectively preserved; that the setting of the monuments and the supporting infrastructure can be developed in an appropriate and sympathetic manner and to guide and encourage future research so that the nature of the site and its importance can be more readily understood.”

Notes for editors:

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.


  • All the sites that comprise the World Heritage Site are in the care of Historic Scotland on behalf of Scottish Ministers.

  • The World Heritage Site and its Buffer Zone are managed in Partnership with Orkney Islands Council, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

  • As part of its World Heritage Status, UNESCO guidelines require management plans to be drawn up every five years.

  • Skara Brae is a domestic settlement whose stone walls, passageways and stone furnishings, such as beds and dressers, survive to the present day.  Maeshowe, a chambered tomb is an extraordinary example of Neolithic architectural genius.  It was designed to allow the setting sun at the winter solstice to shine up the passageway and illuminate the chamber.  The Stones of Stenness circle and henge is a very early example of this type of monument.  The surviving stones are enormous , standing upt to 6 metres in height.  The Ring of Brodgar is a great stone circle 130 metres across.


  • 2013 is the Year of Natural Scotland, inspiring our people and our visitors to celebrate Scotland’s outstanding natural beauty, landscapes and biodiversity as Scotland prepares to welcome the world in 2014 and beyond. Find out more about Scotland’s outstanding natural beauty at www.visitscotland.com/natural

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For further information


Laura Shaw
Media & PR Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8588 or 07854 366 805
laura.shaw2@scotland.gsi.gov.uk