Stenness/Brodgar/20th June/2021

By Bernie Bell

Pics by B&M Bell

We mostly avoid Brodgar in the summer months, but thought it wouldn’t be so busy this year – and it wasn’t.  Quite a few folk out walking, some visitors, but not too hectic – very like how it was when we first went there, all those years ago.

We parked in the new car park at the Stenness Stones, and saw……

Whoever dropped that mask – Shame on you.  Shame and Double shame.

I would have picked it up with end of my walking stick and put it in a bin – but there was no bin to be found.

A sign of the times, but the Stones don’t care – they’ve stood through many centuries of human ups and downs and, hopefully, will stand through many more to come.

There is what I consider to be a slightly bizarre addition to the signage at the Stenness Stones.  I am a self-confessed dinosaur about such things, so am not entirely clear about how it works, but I think you run your Smartphone over the box with squiggly lines in, and you get someone reading an extract from the writings of Sir Walter Scott about his visit to the Stenness Stones – hopefully through ear-phones and not inflicting it on anyone else who happens to be standing nearby!

I am not only a dinosaur, but can be a grouchy dinosaur about such things, and my response to seeing this was…WHY? Why add extra, unnecessary signage to a site such as this?  Why not let people view and wonder at the stones, hopefully having researched them before coming to the site, and if not, they can find out about it afterwards.  There is basic information on a set of modest information boards, which provide all that is needed on the site.

This is the modern world, where silence is anathema and everything has to be laid out for people on a plate, including information about sites such as the Stenness Stones.

To me, this extra piece of signage doesn’t even have much to do with the place, it’s just cluttering it up.  The money would have been better spent on providing a bin in the car park. Mutter mutter mutter.

End of rant.

We then moved on to something which cheered me up – the site of the archaeology dig at the Ness of Brodgar.  During Lockdown when we passed this way, the sight of the empty ‘Digger’s Rest’ just made me feel gloomy looking at it and wondering about the future of the dig.

BUT…but, but, but, but……the dig will resume on the 30th June this year, and I was pleased to see the shop already in place, and the ‘Digger’s Rest’ ready and waiting to provide a nice sit-down for weary diggers – keeping 2 metres apart, of course!

If you’d like to help to free some trenches from their covering of tarpaulin and tyres, please go along to the Ness site on Monday 28th June to lend a hand. Can you help us uncover the site? – The Ness of Brodgar Excavation    

Carrying on along the path by Harray Loch, and admiring the banks of Stocks in bloom….

….we crossed the road and carried on straight ahead on the RSPB ‘Birdy Walk’ which took us round the shores of Stenness Loch, then up to the Ring of Brodgar.

South Knowe ….

….is suffering badly from bunny damage, as well as heavy footfall from folk taking in the view….

Excessive footfall, particularly in recent years, means that the inner path and some of the outer path has had to be closed off to give the land a chance to recover, and I noticed the Historic Environment Scotland are trying out a very solid form of mesh on the paths, which will let the grass come through while limiting the erosion.  It is still possible to circle the outside of the Ring – bearing in mind the need for the gates to the inner path to be closed.

We passed the Comet Stone to walk back to the Stenness Stones car park, noting that the Pilgrims keep on coming…..

4 replies »

  1. Thanks for this walk and your rant about superfluous signage – I agree wholeheartedly but appreciate efforts to save the ground from footfall. Raising a glass to the Ness reopening next week and working my way through Nick Card’s massive signed book I got for Christmas.

  2. I completely agree with you about the signage. And the discarded mask! I was so fortunate to visit the Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar six years ago. I hope I can return one day. Thanks for your posts. I very much appreciate having a little window into current conditions there.

    • You’re very welcome Cath – and I hope you do return one day, when Orkney can be truly open again.
      Meanwhile, I’ll keep taking you for walks via The Orkney News.

      We’re hoping to go to the Ness, the difficulty being Mike taking time off work as it’s only open during the week this time. Where there’s a will, there’s a way – and I am a very wilful bear!

      If you like, you can sign up to have the UHI Archaeology Dept blog sent to you https://archaeologyorkney.com/ That’s full of interesting information – and well put together too!