The spellbinding stone circle – the Ring of Brodgar – is arguably the most iconic symbol of Orkney’s prehistoric past. It is a site of ritual and ceremony, and hauntingly beautiful.Orkney.com
The Ring of Brodgar is an archaeological treasure and without doubt one of the islands’ most visited attractions. It can be found in a magical landscape that is the Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most photographed attractions in Orkney – particularly at sunset. The ring was built around 2500-2000BC and covering an area of almost 8,500 square metres it is the third largest stone circle in the British Isles – just pipped by Avebury and Stanton Drew.
Sitting within a natural amphitheatre of hills and surrounded by a ditch, 27 of the original 60 stones survive today and the guided tour of the site by Historic Scotland is highly recommended to discover the secrets of the ring. According to legend, it was a religious shrine and possibly a place of ritual, while others believe the ring was built for the astronomical observation of the equinox and solstice. The truth is, we don’t know for sure which only adds to the mystique.
Nearby, the solitary Comet Stone keeps a watchful eye, while just one mile from the site the Standing Stones of Stenness cast their spell. Four giant megaliths, at a towering six metres, date back to 3100BC making it one of the oldest stones circles in Britain. Close by, the Barnhouse settlement reveals an excavated group of house dwellings dating from 3300-2600BC.
The Ring of Brodgar comprises:Historic Environment Scotland
– A massive stone circle, originally consisting of 60 stones
– At least 13 prehistoric burial mounds
– A large rock-cut ditch surrounding the stone circle
The Scottish geologist Hugh Miller, visiting in 1846, wrote that the stones ‘look like an assemblage of ancient druids, mysteriously stern and invincibly silent and shaggy’.
The Ring of Brodgar is part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site, a series of important domestic and ritual monuments built 5000 years ago in the Orkney Islands.