A Short Walk To The Stenness/Brodgar Stones

By Bernie Bell

Pics by B&M Bell

The Covid jab made me feel a bit peculiar – not unwell, just peculiar.  No energy at all, so conserving what little I have. I can, genuinely, feel the vaccine working through my system, and I think it needs to not be challenged, so, I’m not challenging it. I’m taking it easy – letting the vaccine do its work. 

I did a bit in the garden on Saturday, which meant that on Sunday – I  felt even more peculiar!  I had a dilemma – do I stay home, feeling out of sorts and grumpy, or, get out in the sunshine, in a gentle sort of way?  I had a plan – drive to the Stenness Stones – go to Barnhouse ‘village’, which we don’t often do these days. Then, back to the car to Brodgar car park, walk up to and round the Ring of Brodgar, then down the track by Salt Knowe to the bench to eat our sandwiches while looking across to Hoy, then home.

Mainly, I wanted to be able to walk on smooth terrain – then I realised that we would be doing a bit of a ‘pilgrimage’ to the stones and associated  settlements/religious communities of Stenness/Brodgar.  We missed out the Ness of Brodgar, not even stopping by to look sadly over the gate at the tarpaulin and tyres, but – can’t be helped.  The beauty of the plan was, if I felt I’d had enough at any point along the way, the car was never far away, and we could go home.

It turned out that we couldn’t park at the Stenness Stones, as work is being carried out to improve the parking area…

At the moment there is limited parking in a space by the Watchstone….

Crossing the road, we walked back towards the Stenness Stones on a wide grassy path.  Entering the enclosure,  we walked right round the bank which surrounds the stones…

…digressing to look for a cup mark on one of the stones, as mentioned by Douglas Scott in his book ‘The Stones of the Ancestors’ https://theorkneynews.scot/2021/02/19/the-stones-of-the-ancestors-unveiling-the-mystery-of-scotlands-ancient-monuments/ ,

which we had never noticed. It was a bit hard to pick out, among all the lovely lichen on the stone, but we did find it……

We were wondering if we would need to get the sun at just the right time, and just the right angle, to be able to see it better?  It is there, though, and you can find it on this stone…..

Then on to Barnhouse   https://www.nessofbrodgar.co.uk/around-the-ness-the-barnhouse-settlement/ , and the continuing mystery that is Structure Eight, with Stenness Kirk in the background…….

I was beginning to flag a bit, and was glad to get back to the car. We drove to the Brodgar car park – it seemed strange to drive from Stenness Stones to Brodgar, but – needs must – and I did feel wobbly.  We sat in the car for a little while, while I gathered myself together – then up the path, noting Salt Knowe being a ‘see and be seen’ place, as it probably has been for millennia….

Then right round the circle.  Having read Dougie’s book, I wanted to have another look at a little indentation on a stone, which we  first noticed over 20 years ago. We had wondered about it, but had never thought of it as a cup mark, possibly because we weren’t aware of there being cup marked stones in that area. Since then, cup marked stones a-plenty have  been found at the dig at the Ness of Brodgar…https://www.nessofbrodgar.co.uk/more-cupmarked-dressed-and-painted-stone/ .  And then reading of the cup mark at the Stenness Stones in Dougie’s book – made us wonder.  What do you think?

Looks like a cup mark, to us!  It’s on this stone, if you want to find it for yourself……

It was too windy to sit by the Loch to eat our sandwiches.   So, avoiding potential otter bothering, we returned to the car, and home.

This is a short, pleasant airing for if you’re not feeling too good.  It did me good – and – there’s always something different to notice in the Neolithic Heart of Orkney!


Readers may be interested in this story about the destruction of some of the stones Civil Disobedience in Stenness

3 replies »

  1. A gentle walk – just what was needed after the vaccination – nourishment of the ancients. Wishing you well.

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