Stenness Standing Stones within the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Heart of Neolithic Orkney. SCO 10,713
Contributor:David Gowans / Alamy Stock Photo
File size:70 MB (4.1 MB Compressed download)
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Dimensions:4040 x 6052 px | 34.2 x 51.2 cm | 13.5 x 20.2 inches | 300dpi
Date taken:12 June 2016
Location:Stenness Standing Stones, Mainland. Orkney Isles. Scotland. UK.
The surviving stones are sited on a promontory at the south bank of the stream that joins the southern ends of the sea loch Loch of Stenness and the freshwater Loch of Harray. The name, which is pronounced stane-is in Orcadian dialect, comes from Old Norse meaning stone headland. The stream is now bridged, but at one time was crossed by a stepping stone causeway, and the Ring of Brodgar lies about 1.2 km (0.75 mi) away to the north-west, across the stream and near the tip of the isthmus formed between the two lochs. Maeshowe chambered cairn is about 1.2 km (0.75 mi) to the east of the Standing Stones of Stenness and several other Neolithic monuments also lie in the vicinity, suggesting that this area had particular importance. The Stenness Watch Stone stands outside the circle, next to the modern bridge leading to the Ring of Brodgar Although the site today lacks the encircling ditch and bank, excavation has shown that this used to be a henge monument, possibly the oldest in the British Isles. The stones are thin slabs, approximately 300 mm (12 in) thick with sharply angled tops. Four, up to about 5 m (16 ft) high, were originally elements of a stone circle of up to 12 stones, laid out in an ellipse about 32 m (105 ft) diameter on a levelled platform of 44 m (144 ft) diameter surrounded by a ditch. The ditch is cut into rock by as much as 2 m (6.6 ft) and is 7 m (23 ft) wide, surrounded by an earth bank, with a single entrance causeway on the north side. The entrance faces towards the Neolithic Barnhouse Settlement which has been found adjacent to the Loch of Harray. The Watch Stone stands outside the circle to the north-west and is 5.6 m (18 ft) high. Once there were at least two stones there, as in the 1930s the stump of a second stone was found. Other smaller stones include a square stone setting in the centre of the circle platform where cremated bone, charcoal and pottery were found. This is referred to as a "hearth", similar to the one found at Barnhouse.