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Archeological Sites of Orkney Scotland -Ring o'Brodgar

Updated on June 19, 2013

Ring o' Brodgar

This ancient site is located by a small strip of land that is in between Stenness and Harray lochs. The age of this monument is not known for sure because the interior has yet to be excavated. Most believe it was erected between 2000BC to 2500BC. It is thought to be the last of the great Neolithic monuments constructed in the Ness. It was built in a circular shape; it is said that there was originally 60 stones today there is 27 left standing. The stones used to build Brodgar are much smaller than those used to build "Standing Stones o' Stenness" which was built in the same circular manner. There have been disagreements to Brodgar being a true henge or not due to the lack of a bank that the other henge possess.

The Brodgar has two entrances one being larger than the other; it is thought that this may have been built over a pathway that lead to a larger gathering place. There is a solitary stone towards the east of the Brodgar Ring that is called the "Comet Stone". Why this stone stands alone away from the others is unknown.

The author "Jo Ben" wrote ":Descripts Insularum Orchadiarum" which is the earliest written description of the Orkney Islands which was written in the 16 century. It is not known where Jo Ben was from or who he was. Some believe he was a priest or a monk that was visiting the Orkney area in and around 1529. He described Brodgar as the following- "In Sterness beside the lake are stones high and broad in height equal to a spear, and in an equal circle of half a mile.

When the state took Brodgar into it's care in 1906 it had the fallen stones erected back up in the places they once had stood. Two of the stones had been hit by lightning others had only fragments of them left. Today there is 27 that still remain standing. The stones themselves came from various quarries. This suggests that different communities came together to build Brodgar. It is believed by some that the ditch that surrounds Brodgar was built to separate it from the rest of the world an island unto itself.

Brodgar is thought to be some part of a ceremony that involves the entire Ness of Brodgar. As far as the transporting of the stones to Brodgar this remains one of life's greatest mysteries. Surrounding the Brodgar ring is Bronze Age burial barrows, mounds and cairns. The most well known of them are the South Knowe, Salt Knowe, Plumcake Knowe and the Fresh Knowe which were all excavated in the 19th century.

Apparently the "Ring of Brodgar" was known as the temple of the sun and the "Standing o' Stenness" was known as the temple of the moon. It has not been verified that this was a traditonal account or a more recent one. I guess we are left to decide for ourselves what the true story is behind these magnificent pieces of history. People come from far and wide to gaze at these mysterious stones that if they could talk would have a tale or two to tell. I guess the archeologists help us to translate some of the messages behind these amazing sites. The rest of the story is left to our imaginations to try and fill in the blanks.

I hope you have enjoyed this leg of the journey through the archeological sites of Orkney hope you will join me for journeys I take in the future by for now!



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    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Awesome, the follow up is just as interesting as were the previous, I enjoy this kind of information. A history lesson indeed.

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 4 years ago


      Interesting history behind

      the archeological sites that are in Scotland. I've learned a lot.

      Voted up