About 5,000 years old the original 11 or 12 stones circled a hearth in the centre. Now five stones remain and there is much conjecture as to their purpose and use.
Geo: 58.9804, -2.95626
After a 90min ferry ride from Thurso, when we had a fine buffet breakfast, we arrived at Stromness in the Orkneys. We spent the day (a little windy and slightly overcast, but still a bottler) visiting various sites around the island.
In the late afternoon we drove down to the very bottom of Orkney Island, driving over the four "Churchill Barriers" built in WWII to protect the British Fleet based in Scapa Flow from enemy maritime attack. The barriers also connect the closest southern islands to the "mainland".
Mike and Rhona returned to Thurso about 4pm. We stayed on to catch the 23:45pm overnight ferry to Lerwick in the Shetland Islands.
Excavations at the Ness of BrodgarThis "dig" has been going on for many years. Recently more funding has allowed the duration to be extended from 6 to 8 weeks a year. It was very interesting watching the folk painstakingly documenting their progress - dig a little, write a lot. A carved stone lintel was found last week - a find that was reported in the papers while we were here.
The Ring of Brodgar2,000 - 2,500 years old, 27 of the possibly 60 original stones still stand. It is a perfect circle, 104m in diameter.
Ring of BrodgarSmaller stones than in the Stones of Stenness and more sedimentary in nature. Exfoliation is weathering many of these stones and the vertical cracks in the sedimentation layers are being filled with a concrete-looking substance to seal and protect them.
Skara Brae houseThis 5,000+ year old village of about 8 dwellings housed up to 60 people for around 600 years. It was discovered in 1850 when a storm tore the turf off the top of a grass dune and uncovered some mysterious structures. The local laird carefully excavated the site and then turned it over (with all the artefacts) to the authorities. Amazing to see well-preserved houses from well before the time of the pyramids.
Broch of GurnessThis Neolithic (New Stone Age) settlement lasted into the Iron Age and consists of a central tower, ringed by many houses and defensive walls.
Dining pod at Skerries BistroAt the very southern tip of the Orkneys is another ancient settlement called the Tomb of the Eagles. This because many eagles' bones and talons were found in the 5,000 yr-old burial chambers. Nearby was this bistro which included an external, six-person dining pod, that we thought was pretty neat.