Ring of Brodgar - 'mysteriously stern'

Statue & Monument

Ring of Brodgar - 'mysteriously stern'

The Ring of Brodgar Stone Circle and Henge is an enormous ceremonial site dating back to the 3rd millennium BC. It can be found on Mainland, the largest island of the Orkneys, off the Scottish coast.

The Ring of Brodgar is a Neolithic henge and stone circle. It is about 6 miles north-east of Stromness, Orkney. It is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site covering the monuments of Neolithic Orkney.

It is the only major henge and stone circle in Britain which is an almost perfect circle. Most henges do not contain stone circles; Brodgar is an exception, ranking with Avebury and Stonehenge in Wiltshire among the greatest of such sites.

The ring of stones stands on a small isthmus between the Lochs of Stenness and Harray.

The stone circle is one of the most photographed attractions in Orkney and was built around 2500-2000BC. It covers an area of almost 8,500 square metres - making it the third largest stone circle in the British Isles (Avebury and Stanton Drew are larger).

Sitting within a natural amphitheatre of hills and surrounded by a ditch, 27 of the original 60 stones survive today. According to legend, it was a religious shrine and possibly a place of ritual, while others believe the ring was built for the astronomical observation of the equinox and solstice. However, no one really knows the true purpose of the structure, and its mystery remains.

The Scottish geologist Hugh Miller, visiting in 1846, describes them best. He wrote that the stones ‘look like an assemblage of ancient druids, mysteriously stern and invincibly silent and shaggy’.

The site is free to visit and open all year.

Image by Doris Pecka from Pixabay

Further reading

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