We continued island hopping with our next stop on the Orkneys. There are several significant archaeological finds here; and we visited three of them–Skara Brae, the Ring of Brodgar, and the Stones of Stenness.
The night before we arrived on the Orkneys, we listened to a lecture about their newest find, the Ness of Brodgar. Its Director of Archaeology described its significance and also gave us some background to help us better understand the Neolithic in this area.
The Orkney Islands are north of mainland Scotland. Though it was late May, our temperatures began in the high 40s and did not get over 68° throughout our stay. We docked in the city of Kirkwall, the Orkneys’ main port.
Our first excursion was to a 5,000-year-old Stone Age village called Skara Brae. We could see inside their homes, which were virtually intact after being buried for several thousand years.
And we could see down their streets which were simple paths. The village sits on the Bay of Skaill.
Skara Brae predates the Pyramid of Giza and Stonehenge. It was inhabited for several centuries with a population of between 50 and 100.
The archeological site was unearthed during a storm in the 1800s. Below is a photo of the Bay of Skaill.
Ring of Brodgar
Next we visited the ceremonial enclosure called the Ring of Brodgar. Below is an aerial view found on Wikipedia. It will help you see the scale of the henge.
One of the largest stone circles in Britain, it once had 60 stones standing six yards apart and a dike.
Today, there are only 36 left.
It is believed to between 2,000 to 2,500 years old. The brown seen in the photos is heather. It will bloom again in July, but the brown itself are the blooms from last year.
The Standing Stones of Stenness
Afterwards, we drove past the Ness of Brodgar, which was closed, to the Standing Stones of Stenness. Unable to get any photos because of the driving rain, here are two from Wikipedia.
The Stones of Stenness is the oldest stone circle in Britain, dating over 5,400 years old, older again than both Giza or Stonehenge. It may be the British Isles oldest henge.
Only four of the original twelve stones remain. A large stone hearth sets inside of the circle.
St. Magnus Cathedral
Finally back at the ship, we had time to walk into the city of Kirkwall, but inclement weather and a chronic injury to Chuck’s heel kept us on the ship. At the top of my list to see had been St. Magnus Cathedral, which towers over the city. It was built to honor the Viking Earl of Orkney and to house the Orkney bishops. Again these photos are from Wikipedia.
Construction began in 1137 and lasted over 300 years.
Technically, no longer a cathedral, though, it is a Parish Church of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Being a Presbyterian myself, it was on my list to see.