Stones, henges…

Stones of Stenness

Although some stones are missing and others broken, this ring of massive stones was perhaps the earliest constructed in the British Isles. The henge (encircling ditch/ring made from that soil) is mostly plowed away, but we could see the remains of it. These are BIG stones.

In sum, the Stones of Stenness is an old feature, has nearby alignment stones, and is not a particularly large henge.

Ring of Brodgar

In contrast, the Ring of Brodgar, just over a kilometer away, is huge, one of the largest henge/stone circles in the British Isles, although the individual stones aren’t as broad/tall. The henge is on a slope such that from this perspective I couldn’t see all of them, although the size of the circle is evident…. That’s a large bus-load of high-schoolers to the right.

Ring of Brodgar closerup

The rain started when we were half-way to the henge, but by the time we turned back, it had stopped (thank you, Odin or whatever forces smiled upon us). You can get a sense of the slope that this circle/henge is on, and see a cairn to the right, next to and outside the henge.

The Ring of Brodgar was created much later than the Stenness circle. Around these features are single and paired standing stones, larger and smaller cairns, cist graves, and even a village…today called Barnhouse—at least these are ancient features that have been recognized so far….

This was an elaborate ritual landscape, a rival to the Stonehenge area, and in use for a millennium at least. These two stone circles were on two narrow spits of land that point at each other and today are connected by a causeway; they used to be connected by stepping stones, perhaps even in ancient times. They are inland from the open sea, but connected to it by water. In addition, there are some pottery types found here and in southern Britain and Ireland; at minimum, the peoples who made/used these features had some long-distance contact.

This is a special area…. There’s another henge farther north, but no obvious public access. I could see it in the fields; it has a somewhat shallow but very wide ditch, and has been altered by generations of plowmen.

Window view

And now for something completely different…this is the view from our room under the eaves (several of our rooms have been under the eaves…). Love the fisher-dude getting out of his wetsuit to hop in his Honda sports car and resume his life on land…. Also, sheep-dots in the distance…. Many people walk their dogs out this road/trail, which seems to go to several WWII gun emplacements(?). BTW, we went to a town the other day that had a plaque that said the British military temporarily emptied the town to use the area to practice for the Normandy invasion….

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