The Stones of Stenness - Britain's oldest standing stones?

Statue & Monument

The Stones of Stenness - Britain's oldest standing stones?

The Standing Stones of Stenness, in the Orkney Islands, are reckoned to be the oldest of Britain's many Neolithic stone monuments. The purpose of the structure remains unknown.

The Standing Stones of Stenness lie five miles northeast of Stromness on the mainland of Orkney in Scotland. There were originally twelve stones, with some standing up to six metres high, focused on a large hearth in the centre. Although only four stones remain standing, it is still possible to get a sense of the scale and importance of the area.

The stones were originally encircled by a large ditch and bank, the form of which has been lost by ploughing over the last 5000 years. There are several other Neolithic monuments in the vicinity, suggesting that this area had particular importance.

There was once another stone, known as the "Odin Stone" which stood in the field to the north of the henge, which was pierced with a circular hole, and was used by local couples for plighting engagements by holding hands through the gap. It was also associated with other ceremonies and believed to have magical power. Unfortunately this stone was smashed by a new arrival to Orkney in 1814, who had purchased land nearby and resented the presence of locals crossing his land to get to the stone.

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