NEW research has revealed a lost Viking waterway running through the Orkney Mainland. It connects the North Atlantic and Scapa Flow, possibly forming the equivalent of an ancient “highway”.

The study to be published in the Journal of Wetland Archaeology is a collaboration between the Universities of the Highlands and Islands, St Andrews and Wales.

A series of Old Norse (Old Scandinavian) place names, connected to the sea and boats, initially drew the attention of the researchers.

Modern scientific methods, including remote sensing geophysical mapping and sediment samples, revealed the area was connected through a series of waterways or canals.

They would have provided a shallow water route for moving boats and heavy goods such as grain. Similar waterways are known elsewhere in Scotland, such as at Rubh’ an Dunain on Skye.