Stones of Stennes, Orkney, Scotland

This evening, I am posting information on one of the top prehistoric sites on Orkney, Scotland if not the entire British Isles. Orkney is a group of islands located N.E. of the Scottish mainland and is very well endowed with prehistoric sites such as Skara Brae, Ring of Brodgar and Maes Howe.

Although impressive, the remaining stones at Stenness represent a fraction of the original complex which may well have rivalled the nearby Ring of Brodgar in size. Summary facts and information:

  • Located 9 miles west of Kirkwall, capital of Mainland Orkney, adjacent to the B 9055.
  • Erected during the Late Neolithic period, about 3000 BC.
  • Classified as a circle-henge with the outer ditch cut through rock and extending to 19 feet in width and up to 6ft 6 inches deep.
  • Outside the ditch was a bank some 21 feet in width and about 6 feet in height.
  • The central area enclosed by the ditch had a diameter of about 148 feet with one wide entrance at the north.
  • On the central plateau had been a ring of 11 or 12 very tall sandstone slabs of which only four remain erect. the stone may have been set in an elipse (106 feet N-S) or a circle (104 feet in diameter). The tallest slab stands at the south and is 18 ft 9 ins high, 4 ft 7 ins wide and weighing 6 tons.
  • The Stennes Stones may have been built on the site of an earlier prehistoric construction or site of occupation.
  • In common with many other such prehistoric circles it is possible that the site was aligned with the mid-winter sunrise.
  • Close to the site are two sole standing stones: the Barnhouse Stone, 765 yards to the S.E. and the Watch Stone, 130 yards to the N.E. One of both of these may have formed part of a row or avenue of similar stones linked to the circle.

Stones of Stennes, Orkney, Scotland

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