While I’ve heard of Stonehenge, I was fascinated to learn of a new place to visit and be overwhelmed by, Neolithic Orkney. I have always been in love with Scotland and this makes my wanting to go all the more appealing. Located on the Scottish Islands of Orkney, there are four monuments or sites dating back almost 5,000 years ago, the Scara Brae, Ring of Brodger, Maeshowe and the Standing Stones of Stenness; each one having its own characteristic and design.
The Scara Brae is a settlement built out of stone. It consists of stone beds built into the side walls, stone furniture and fireplaces. There is even a drainage system for toilets. Passages have been discovered that connect the ten clusters of houses. The village was found after a winter storm uncovered the settlement. It wasn’t until 1924 when another storm damaged part of the site that anyone took a serious look.
The Ring of Brodger is a large circular structure (originally sixty stones) made up of twenty seven stones. The width is approximately 341 in diameter. About a mile from here is the Standing Stones of Stenness which only consists of four stones (originally twelve). Many traditions were held at these stones including engagements by holding hands through the hole of the Odin stone. In 1814 the land owner was tired of people coming on his land and tried to destroy the stones. He was stopped by the time he got to the second stone.
Also near the Ring of Brodger is Maeshowe. Maeshowe is a grave and chambered cairn. On the outside Maeshowe looks like a small hill covered in grass. On the inside is one of the largest tombs in Orkney. During winter solstice the rear wall of its central chamber is illuminated.
Each place has tours but only the Ring of Brodger and the Standing Stones of Stenness are free. There is a fee to visit Scara Brae and Maeshowe though easily worth it.
Archeological findings are always being made. One of the best ways to be in the know for these wonderful monuments is reading the “Stonechat.” An up-to-date online magazine that follows and reports on new findings of Neolithic Orkney.