If you thought that Scotland was all about the castles and the countrysides, you’re missing out on its treasure trove of historical and archaeological ruins. Hovering in the present time as notes on history,  the pre-historic culture and archaeology are sure to leave us spellbound. The country holds the key to some of the most ancient and prehistoric sites in all of the British Isle and some even as far and wide as Europe. So, if you are travelling with a history-enthusiast or are one yourself, we have the most essential Scottish itinerary for you! By Shubhanjana Das

1. The Standing Stones of Stenness

Scotland’s stone circles are not limited to Stonehenge. Believed to be standing on an ancient and sacred burial ground, the Standing Stones of Stennes in Orkney Mainland is a World Heritage Site. Amongst the other conjectures surrounding these megaliths is one which supposes that this is the earliest henge monument in the British Isles. The stones, shooting up to the sky like roots from the ground, have a height of up to six metres.

2. Skara Brae

Older than the Pyramids and Stonehenge itself, the showstopper of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney is Skara Brae. Thanks to a storm which stripped the mound of grass covering the ruins, Skara Brae dates back 5,000 years. It was discovered in 1850 by the Laird of Skaill. If you wish to witness the absolute genius of Neolithic construction, Skara Brae, or ‘the Scottish Pompeii’ is the place to be. We’re talking dwellings linked by covered passageways and a central hearth, two stone box beds and a ‘fitted’ stone dresser. And these are just a few of the many things here that baffle people from the present day!

3. Ring of Brodgar

One look at this magnificent stone formation and you will know why it is crowned as one of the most breathtaking prehistoric sites in the British Isles. While the circle is thought to have had 60 standing stones in its prime time, what remains now are 13 burial mounds and over 30 mammoth standing stones. The site originally served as a ceremonial ground for worship in the ancient times.

4. Kilmartin Glen

Scotland’s West Coast is home to the idyllic and picturesque village of Kilmartin. Bordered by Oban and Lochgilphead, Kilmartin Glen is a site of unending wonder and awe as it shelters multiple Neolithic and Bronze Age souvenirs. There is an array of ancient ruins, which range from multiple cairns and standing stones to carved rocks, stone circles, forts and castles. The 9.6-km radius of the village holds the key to about 350 ancient monuments, out of which 150 hail back to the prehistoric times.

5. Machrie Moor Standing Stones

A group of six standing stones named collectively as Machrie Moor is situated on the west side of Arran, near Blackfoot. The site is believed to have been a significant site for Neolithic rituals. The Stone circles, standing stones, hut circles, burial cairns and cists were home to domestic activities. Basically, the Machrie Moor Standing Stones have everything to make a history and archaeology enthusiast go weak in the knees.

Related: The Discovery of the World’s First Temple and The Mystery Around It