Concern Grows Over Condition of the Ring of Brodgar

Historic Environment Scotland are to spend a further £10,000 to try and improve conditions at the World Heritage Site, The Ring of Brodgar, Orkney.

The Neolithic Ring of Brodgar is older than Stonehenge and has suffered in recent years not just with heavy rainfall but with the huge surge in tourism that Orkney is experiencing.

A report for Orkney Islands Council to look into issues surrounding the huge growth in the tourism sector locally stated:

  • that in 2016 there were around 124,000 volume visitors to Orkney. The vast majority were cruise passengers around 91,000 of whom are estimated to have gone ashore; almost all are day visitors.
  • that there were 129,500 non-volume visitors in 2016 (excluding yachts). The vast majority of these tourists stay overnight on Orkney for one or more nights.

Figures for 2017 will be higher.

The report went on to say:

“there is no empirical evidence of capacity pressures adversely impacting on either the physical fabric of visitor sites or the quality of visitor experience at them. In terms of physical fabric, none of the operators participating in the study identified any capacity issues that are not already being addressed through ongoing site management.”

The Ring of Brodgar

HES began a programme of improvements in 2016, which are now nearing completion, with replacement of some areas of turf and the temporary restriction of the inner circle path.

Ring of Brodgar

Ring of Brodgar outer path which is still open

The restrictions on access to the inner path began on  22nd November. Signage and fencing directs visitors to the outer pathway, which affords a clear view across the site.

Sandra Miller, Orkney World Heritage Site Ranger  said: “The Ring of Brodgar combines a stunning natural beauty with the archaeological legacy left by Orkney’s Neolithic society.

“We want to make sure that people can keep enjoying it year round, with continued access to the inner ring path.

“The work that’s been done over the last two years and the new management plan will make sure that visitors can continue to experience the full thrill of the site.

“Our free guided walks will be continuing on through the winter months, with walks on most Thursday afternoons. I’m looking forward to being able to tell our visitors about the latest work. ”

From Spring 2018, restrictions on the inner circle will be lifted and a new management plan implemented. This will see alternating routes round the circle introduced to allow parts of the pathways to rest and the addition of temporary raised walkways over the access causeways, where footfall is concentrated.

Ring of Brodgar

Exposed archaeology where visitors have gone off the path

Considering the volume of tourists choosing to visit Orkney and the unique grandeur of the Ring of Brodgar it is hoped that the measures taken by Historic Environment Scotland will help to preserve the site for future generations.

Reporter: Fiona Grahame


2 replies »

  1. Does this mean that there will be scaffolding over the site permanently? I am concerned that photography of the site will be ruined. This is one of the most wonderful things about Orkney.

    • Not sure Tim, the site is in a terrible state and people have been tramping into the ditch and up on the mounds to such an extent that archaeology is poking through. I think education for visitors and locals alike is required .

Leave a Reply