highland land plots


Sanday History & Wildlife

The name of Sanday means "sand island", which is appropriate as one of its most outstanding features are the sweeping bays with their dazzling white sandy beaches just like those found in the Caribbean.

Sanday is the largest of the North Isles of Orkney and is approxinately 16 miles (26km) in length, with a population of around 500. The island is both a haven for wildlife and contains a number of important archaeological sites.

Around 4,000 BC, farmers were settling on Sanday. The island offered the best conditions in Orkney for arable farming, reflected in the extraordinary diversity of prehistoric, Viking Age and later settlements. This wealth is indicated by Mediaeval taxation rolls which valued Sanday land higher than elsewhere in Orkney. Rich farmsteads usually remained in occupation for thousand of years, resulting in massive accumulations of successively deserted buildings and midden deposits, giving archaeological stratigraphies many metres thick.


On the Elsness Peninsula, you'll find one of the most spectacular chambered cairns found in the Orkneys:

The Quoyness Chambered Tomb. The tomb and its principal chamber date from around 2900 B.C., reaching a height of some 13 feet (4m).

The island has a number of other important sites, including the Tofts Ness funerary complex. The complex is considered one of the most important prehistoric sites in Britain, comprising of some 500 prehistoric burial mounds, representing thousands of years of mans development.  

In 1991 a spectacular Viking-Age find was made near Scar in Burness. This boat burial contained threehuman skeletons richly endowed with ornaments, household goods and weapons. Such an ostentatious funeral could only have been staged by a family of enormous wealth.

Intriguingly Sanday folklore speaks of a fantastically rich individual once having lived at Scar.


Wildlife on Sanday


The coastline of the island gives easy access to one of Sanday's principal wildlife attractions - seals.

Common Seal pups can be seen swimming at Otterswick in June and Grey seals are born on secluded beaches in November.

Another delight of the beaches are the shells - the Cowrie (Grottie Buckie) and the Faroese Sunset being two favourites.

More elusive are Sanday's otters but the alert will find their tell-tale tracks -five toes and a trailing tail in the sand. Sanday boasts all the seabirds, terns and waders found elsewhere in Orkney. Migrant birds such as Hoopoe, Red-Breasted Flycatcher, Ortolan and Little and Pine Buntings have all been seen in recent summers.

As an owner of one of our land plots, you will be making a direct contribution to the preservation of this rich natural and archaeological heritage.


Join our newsletter for up to date news about Sanday, new product notifications and special offers

First Name:
Last Name:
Email Address:


Bookmark this page
Delicious Digg Facebook Google Bookmarks Yahoo My Web Stumbleupon Twitter Technorati Spurl Reddit