Monday, October 2, 2017

The Orkney Islands' Ring of Brodgar

The Ring of Brodgar in the Orkney Islands
Inspired by a Lonely Planet article, Stinge Henge: eight alternative ancient stone monuments, I  have been learning about the Ring of Brodgar.

Most henges don't actually not contain stone circles; but Brodgar is a striking exception. It ranks with Avebury and, to a lesser extent, Stonehenge, among the greatest of such sites.  It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Heart of Neolithic Orkney.

Also known as Brogar, or Ring o' Brodgar, the henge  is situated about 10 kilometres (6 miles) north-east of the village of Stromness, on Mainland Island, in Orkney, Scotland. Mainland is the largest of the Orkney Islands, and the ring of stones stands on a small isthmus between Loch Harray and LochStenness and Harray.

It is thought that the monument was erected between 2500 BC and 2000 BC, which would make it the last of the great Neolithic monuments built on the Ness. Flint arrowheads found nearby seem to date from the Bronze Age. An excavation was undertaken in 2008 to settle the age issue, but they are still digging through the results, so to speak.

The Ring of Brodgar stone circle is 104 metres (341 feet) in diameter, the third largest in the British Isles.

While today only 27 stones remain standing, the ring originally comprised up to 60 stones. The tallest stones stand at the south and west sides of the ring. The famed "Comet Stone" stands on the southeast side. Unlike similar structures such as Avebury, there are no obvious stones inside the circle.

Part of a concentration of ancient sites, and the northernmost circle henge in Britain, the Ring of Brodgar is part of a significant ritual landscape.

Within 5.2 square kilometres (2 square miles) there are the two circle-henges, four chambered tombs, groups of standing stones, single stones, barrows, cairns, and mounds.

The Ring of Brodgar has been recognized as part of the "Heart of Neolithic Orkney" World Heritage Site in 1999. Others sites include in the designation includes Maeshowe, Skara Brae and the Standing Stones of Stenness.

Related resources

Stinge Henge: eight alternative ancient stone monuments - LonelyPlanet
The Boy with the Bronze Axe - Kathleen Fidler*

* the 1968 novel depicts the Ring of Brodgar as a male-only space in which a lamb is sacrificed in a midsummer ceremony

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