Shell Sand at Aikerness

A rare type of rock called Aeolianite (shell sand) can be found at Aikerness in Orkney.

A fine example of Aeolianite

A fine example of Aeolianite

One of the finest examples of Aeolianite can be found in a farm field on the Orkney mainland.

In areas where the sea is rich in shellfish, tiny particles of crushed shell combine with the sand, eroded from the local sandstone to combine Shell sand.

Aeolianite was formed around 10,ooo years ago, probably about the same time that Skara Brae became inhabited.

This lime rich sand was used by local farmers to improve their agricultural land.

Although the soil has low fertility, it drains well and regular grazing by rabbits allows smaller plant species to thrive which would otherwise be crowed out by the grasses.

Plants found in this area include; Eyebright, Lady’s Bedstraw, Wild Thyme, Fairy Flax and Stiff Sand Grass.

Eyebright

Eyebright

The site is on private land at Aikerness Farm but access is kindly granted by the owners.

Great care is advised as the rocks and plants in this reserve area are very fragile and easily damaged.

Find out more:

Scottish Geology – Find out more about the geology of Scotland.
The Geological Society