Archives for posts with tag: Ring of Brodgar

I can’t believe that it’s only 2 weeks since I was leaving the Orkneys having spent another fascinating week on the Island.

I got back to a very busy couple of weeks so it is only now that I am getting time to reflect on a what a good week it was. Having been on the mainland twice before I was getting to know my way around.

I was meeting the group I would be joining on the Saturday  evening for dinner and having got on the mainland mid morning I had lots of time to play with. I headed to Stromness that is a curious and attractive town with blue plaques on almost every other building and references to the maritime great and good going back to over hundreds of years. I had a relaxed day, but before going to Pentland House I wanted to go to both the Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar, it was the day before the Summer Solstice, just hours before the druids would be arriving so it was appropriate too.

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The Orkneys are a series of islands with a history that can be traced back over 5000 years, if you look back to my visit last year documented on this blog you will find more on this. What I primarily want to show you this year is my visit to Rousey and an impromptu visit to the Cairns Dig that we were fortunate to visit, thanks to one of our group knowing someone on the project. I had not given much thought to the archaeological process, in that it is in itself a destructive process, however everything is recorded in detail to answer and unlock the stories the remains carry.


We visited Westray, Hoy and many sites of archaeological importance and other sites that are vitally important sea bird habitats, it was good to see the large numbers of Guillemot and Kittiwake chicks, and it would appear is that there is at least an increase in the number of sand eels that are a staple part of the diet of many auks.

Rousay is a small island  20 minutes by ferry from the mainland with a circular road around it, many of the cairns are only a short walk from the road, however some of the most breathtaking sites are a good walk from the road. Midhowe Broch and Midhowe Cairn are staggering, both are impressive structures. Midhowe Cairn one of the largest Stalled Cairns ever found with 24 stalls in a total of 12 chambers, it is now completely enclosed in large barn like building to preserve it. I did not expect to see the extent of the preservation that has taken place with large buildings and concrete structures preserving many of these cairns.

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I am still awestruck when standing in many of these places and trying to comprehend that 5000 years ago someone obviously stood in exactly the same place as I am standing.

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I have been trying to put together a blog post about my holiday to the Orkney’s for some weeks now, but I’ve never quite got what I wanted to say right on paper. It may possibly be because I have not quite got what I wanted to say right in my head first.


The Orkney’s are a fascinating and beautiful group of islands, they are steeped in history, a history that physically manifests itself wherever you go. The history of man in Britain (and parts of Norway) over 5000 years is physically laid out across the islands.


To be standing where it is obvious that someone else stood 5000 years ago, and to look into a landscape that still has all the principal features of that time is a huge concept to take in. This is the position you find yourself in when standing at the at the Neolithic Dwarfi Stane on Hoy looking into the glacial landscape.

Throughout the islands there are structures, monuments, stone circles, and the remains of villages that go back literally thousands of years to Neolithic and Bronze Age times. There is a wealth of more modern history too, be it the grave of Betty Corrigall from 1770’s to the block ships, the scuttling of the German fleet at Scarpa Flow in 1919, through to the war grave of HMS Royal Oak, and derelict buildings from WW2.


I was amid the beauty of the landscape and wildlife, on small island with a unique character, where in June where night is approximately 50 minutes of semi darkness I found my mind boggling at what I was seeing, it is an incredible place.

But the thing I could not get my head around was the minimal impact those responsible for the Dwarfi Stane, the Ring of Brodgar and Scara Brae made on their environment compared to the utter devastation taking place today.


One has to wonder at the complexity of man’s relationship with the planet now, and the extent to which it has changed over 5000 years. What is clear is our ability to destroy the place now and out inability to control population, compared to the early Orkney settlers minimal impact of any form on their environment. At that time man could not impact on the environment in any meaningful way, today we are at the opposite end of the scale.


It has left me wondering looking at that distance, how much more may be left, and if by the time we have worked out that things are out of hand we may have already gone too far and it would be, or is in fact too late.