Orkney's archaeological treasures have been attracting visitors to the islands for decades.

From the mysteries of Maeshowe to the iconic Neolithic village at Skara Brae, people come to learn all about the history of Orkney and its original inhabitants.

But what about our hidden heritage and all the amazing artefacts that lie beneath the surface of the sea? Unless you're prepared to don a dry suit and head down into the dark depths of Scapa Flow, you might never see some incredible examples of Orkney's maritime history.

Diving in Orkney - image courtesy of Halton Charters

The latest exhibition at the Orkney Museum in Tankerness House should help shed some light on this fascinating period of local history.

'The Secrets of the Sea: Underwater Archaeology around Orkney', which opens on the 6th of February, focuses on some of the wrecks found in waters around the islands and the many items found on the seabed.

There are displays focusing on stricken ships and the chance to find out more about the techniques used in the hidden world of marine archaeology. The exhibition will also highlight the fate of the German High Seas Fleet and crashed wartime aircraft, all now rusting relics from a different time.

Student divers in Orkney preparing for a dive

The Stromness-based Maritime Studies Department - UHI has put together a display on sail making and the Orkney Historic Boat Society will also showcase the work they have done to preserve traditional boats.

The exhibition is a collaboration between Sula Diving, Seasearch, Orkney Historic Boat Society, ORCA - UHI Archaeology Institute and the Maritime Studies Department - UHI.

Orkney's wrecks hold many delights for visiting divers - image courtesy of Halton Charters

Sandra Hendry, Maritime Archaeologist with ORCA said:

"Various facets of Orkney's rich maritime cultural heritage are represented within this exhibit from the oar to the sail; this exhibition displays the work of a number of groups invested in the recording, protection and promotion of Orkney's maritime cultural heritage.

Orkney's rich maritime heritage has the ability to tell the stories of the people who first inhabited these islands, to the dramatic events of war represented within the World War I and World War II wrecks around Orkney, whilst still bringing us through to the present day and the way we continue to interact with the maritime space."

'The Secrets of the Sea: Underwater Archaeology around Orkney' runs from the 6th - 27th February.

The Orkney Museum is open Monday - Saturday, 10.30 a.m. - 12.30 p.m., 1.30 p.m. - 5.00 p.m., admission is free.

Find out more about Orkney's museums, galleries and attractions.