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Cliffside scramble dates back beyond the Vikings

We almost didn't tackle the climb. But the idea of seeing a ruined medieval chapel dating back to before the Vikings -- we're talking the mid-900s, more than 1,000 years ago -- well, who could resist? We climbed the narrow, rocky path that leads to the top of the Brough (pronounced Brock) of Deerness. This site, roughly 12 miles east of Kirkwall, is little visited by tourists, according to Tom Muir, our expert guide.
Usually, visitors to Orkney head west to such better-known sites as Skara Brae, the Stones of Stennis, and the Ring of Brodgar. But here we have a spectacular Viking site, with numerous 10th-century buildings just waiting to be dug out from beneath the mossy grasses. And the ruins of the stone-built chapel, built on the site of a wooden temple, pre-Norse, are alone worth a visit -- and that "interesting" climb up and along the cliffside.
Ken McGoogan
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Before turning mainly to books about arctic exploration and Canadian history, Ken McGoogan worked for two decades as a journalist at major dailies in Toronto, Calgary, and Montreal. He teaches creative nonfiction writing through the University of Toronto and in the MFA program at King’s College in Halifax. Ken served as chair of the Public Lending Right Commission, has written recently for Canada’s History, Canadian Geographic, and Maclean’s, and sails with Adventure Canada as a resource historian. Based in Toronto, he has given talks and presentations across Canada, from Dawson City to Dartmouth, and in places as different as Edinburgh, Melbourne, and Hobart.