Ring of Brodgar – Stone Circle and Henge in Orkney

The Ring of Brodgar Is The Third Largest Stone Circle In The British Isles:

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Ring of Brodgar, Orkney © Travel Signposts

Just as old and mysterious as Stonehenge, but perhaps nowhere nearly as famous, is the Ring of Brodgar (or Brogar) Stone Circle and Henge on the Mainland island of Orkney, Scotland. If not for its remote location, the Ring of Brodgar would probably give Stonehenge a better run for its money as this great stone circle is awe-inspiring.  But there are advantages for the tourist in visiting this less famous site – you are able to walk within the Brodgar Ring and see the stone circle up close.

The Ring of Brodgar is a Neolithic henge and stone circle on the Ness of Brodgar, a small isthmus separating the Lochs of Stenness and Harray.  Like the Standing Stones at Stenness, it is in the Heart of Neolithic Orkney – a complex of monuments, settlements and tombs that was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1999.

The Brodgar circle of stones is estimated to have been erected between 2500 and 2000 BC but the actual age of the site remains an issue as reliable scientific dating has yet to be carried out. The spectacular stone ring is surrounded by a large circular rock-cut ditch or henge.  Putting up the stones and creating the massive ditch were activities that required considerable manpower and organisation during the Neolithic Age, which is why the Ring of Brodgar and other Neolithic monuments are so amazing.

The Ring of Brodgar was one of the first sites to be scheduled in the British Isles (1882). The stone circle is 104 metres in diameter and is the third largest in the British Isles.

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Ring of Brodgar, Orkney © Travel Signposts

There were originally 60 megaliths in the ring, however only 27 remain standing.  Next to one of the fallen stones is a sign that advises that the stone was struck by lightning on the 5th of June 1980, causing it to shatter. It’s possible that such lightning strikes might have occurred in earlier times and might account for the damaged state of several other stones in the ring.

The Ring of Brodgar was part of a massive prehistoric ritual complex that probably included the Stones of Stenness to the south-east and the Ring of Bookan to the north-west.

On our end-August visit, it was “heather in bloom” time and the whole area was covered in a sea of pinkish lilac heather. A beautiful contrast were the yellow flowers and the brilliant blue skies that we were least expecting.

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