Helen Woodsford-Dean

Languages:

Hello, my name is Helen Woodsford-Dean and I would love to show you around Orkney, my home since 2009 and the inspirational source of many of my published articles. My special interests are the folklore and prehistoric archaeology of Orkney: I have excavated at the Ness of Brodgar, I have worked in the Orkney Museum, St Magnus Cathedral, and the farm museums, as well as at Maeshowe. 

I am in partnership with my husband, Mark (also a STGA guide), and together we call ourselves "Spiritual Orkney". We are available to hire as guides either together or separately.

When guiding, our approach is to try to offer our guests the time and the space to really sense, feel and connect with the sites and the land. We think it is better to have a couple of genuine experiences rather than dozens of superficial ones. Plus we can take you to the quieter, secret sacred sites which are off the main tourist trails. We think this is more, well, spiritual, which is why we call our tours: “Spiritual Orkney”.

However, our tours can squeeze in the sites, if that is what you really want ... it is YOUR choice after all, but our philosophy is: you are on holiday, island life is relaxed, why not relax into our pace too? You will enjoy it more ... and you can always come back to Orkney again in future!

I may be relaxed and entertaining (and enjoy fun and laughter), but I am still professional, courteous and informative. I am an accredited STGA Green Badge Guide, authorised and insured to perform tours around Orkney. I have degrees from top British universities in archaeology and my specialist area of interest is religion and ritual in the prehistoric British Isles. I have over 10 years experience of teaching archaeology in Further Education and I have travelled extensively in the British Isles; this means that I know my stuff and I can communicate it in an accessible manner at the right level for YOU (including children).

"Spiritual Orkney" is available to plan your bespoke tours for you and guide you around the sites of your choice. Depending on your interests, we can focus on the must-sees of Orkney, have a themed tour such as Orkney housing through the ages, or you can tell us the sorts of things you are most interested in seeing and we will make suggestions and plan a route. We cannot guarantee that you will have a site to yourself, but we can advise when the quieter times will be and we are flexible enough to be able to guide you at those times. 

I look forward to meeting you and to sharing with you these gorgeously beautiful islands.

OTHER SERVICES:

Lectures / talks on various aspects of archaeology – illustrated with PowerPoint if requested 

Life rituals (I am a celebrant, able to perform legal weddings)

Itinerary planning
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Services

  • Coach Tour
  • Conference and incentive work
  • Corporate Assistance
  • Extended Tour
  • Itinerary Planning
  • Shore Excursion
  • Special needs groups
  • Walking Tour

Additional Information

  • Guide Type: Green Badge
  • Months Available: January-December
  • Type of car:
  • Year Qualified: 2013
  • Tour starting points

    • Kirkwall
    • Stromness
  • Qualifications

    University of Winchester BSc (Hons) First Class in Archaeology
    University of Southampton MSc with Distinction in Archaeological Science
    Stacks of additional short courses in archaeology, local history, and Orcadian studies
    University of Portsmouth Post-Graduate Certificate of Education (post-compulsory education)
    I am Service Assured trained (customer service training)
    And of course, STGA Green Badge guide for Orkney
  • Tours

    Walking tours and step-on tours (you provide the driver and vehicle: this can be your own vehicle and driver, a hired car with you driving, or a hired vehicle and driver such as a taxi - I can arrange transport if you ask me to).
    
    Please see our web-site (www.spiritualorkney.co.uk/tours) 
    for tour suggestions.  Most tours are bespoke and designed around YOUR interests but we offer the following tours:
    
    * Prehistoric Orkney and World Heritage Sites
    * Neolithic Orkney
    * Bronze Age and Iron Age Orkney
    * Viking Orkney
    * Kirkwall town walks
    * Orkney witch trials and associated legends
    * The Ness of Brodgar excavations and the Heart of Neolithic Orkney
    * The architecture of Orkney through the millenia
    * Orkney folklore
    * Discover Orkney

Clients' Testimonials

  • The Scottish Government is delighted to endorse the work of the Scottish Tourist Guides Association in recognition of their worldwide reputation and quality work and training. I commend the passion and knowledge they bring to guiding and congratulate them on continuing to set the standard in this area.

  • VisitScotland is delighted to recognise the Scottish Tourist Guides Association as the professional membership body for fully trained and accredited tourist guides in Scotland. STGA accredited guides are passionate ambassadors for Scotland and in providing our visitors with information and inspiration, help deliver a memorable experience for them.

  • VisitScotland is delighted to recognise the Scottish Tourist Guides Association as the professional membership body for fully trained and accredited tourist guides in Scotland. STGA accredited guides are passionate ambassadors for Scotland and in providing our visitors with information and inspiration, help deliver a memorable experience for them.

  • Fergus Ewing MSP

    Minister for Business, Energy, and Tourism

    Scottish Government

  • Marion Boyd

    International Development Assistant

    Aberdeen City Council

  • Helen Versloot

    Incentive Department

    Gullivers Travel Agency