Culture

Walking The Stones

By Berni Bell

Readers of ‘The Orkney News’ might remember my article telling of Jeanne Bouza-Rose’s walking the Ring of Brodgar with good intent….. https://theorkneynews.scot/2020/12/17/jeanne-weaves-her-words-and-images/

Jeanne recently emailed me to say that the gates have been locked at the Ring again – which changes her walking.  As Jeanne says…….“Walking the ring is different with the gates closed.  It is hard to get the mantra without touching the stones.  But I manage.”

My response was that Jeanne might consider walking the Stenness Stones instead?  A different vibe – but still connecting with LIFE – and Jeanne said……

“Yes, I have gone around Stenness Stones, even when the Ring was open and the weather was too bad or Gracie didn’t want to walk much.  I have “linked” them.  And I use the Comet stone as well in the same way…linked alternatives.  But, the ring is the one that sings for my mantra.  The others simply work.” 

When Jeanne started walking the Ring of Brodgar, with her wee dog Gracie,  that prompted an outpouring of inspiration which was expressed in her paintings – both of the stones, and of what is seen out from the stones.

I wonder, if she ever switches to the Stenness Stones, might that produce a whole different set of paintings, with a different vibe?  The two places, and the two sets of Stones, do have a very different feel to them which was, and is, picked up on by folk like Jeanne.

Also, she began her walking with concerns about Trump, America, her family, and today’s world generally.

That has changed – Trump is out, Biden is in. The world is still in jeopardy – but – again – different.  So, maybe walking the Stenness Stones could mark that change too?

Just some thoughts – some possibilities.

As to the gates to the Ring being locked – Historic Environment Scotland are ‘resting’ the path as they have done some reseeding in both the inner and outer paths and this, hopefully, will give the paths a chance to rejuvenate. 

The Ring of Brodgar

When the stones were first raised there will have been massive gatherings of people walking there, but only on special occasions.

Then, over the centuries there were times when they were seen as something special, but there won’t have been all that many people walking them – they were still places of specialist interest.

I’ll draw a veil over the desecrations which took place during the time of WW2 – Bren-gun carriers driving across the Ring.

Bren gun carriers of the 9th Battalion, Gordon Highlanders pass between the prehistoric standing stones of the Ring of Brodgar on Orkney, 18 June 1941. Taylor (Lt), War Office official photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In times of war all else is subsumed to The War Effort.  A worrying idea – I’m sure it couldn’t happen again…. or……. could it?

The problems really began with the absolutely huge liners coming to Orkney, and the crazy numbers of people getting off their huge, bendy-in-the-middle coaches, traipsing round the circle, then away again, making room for the next shipload.

The place is having something of a respite now – needs must.

Whereas – the Stenness Stones get less foot-fall – the grass is naturally ‘mown’ by sheep – so those stones are mostly open to all – at all times.

The Stones of Stenness

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