Standing Stones of Stenness

Orkney, United Kingdom

The Standing Stones of Stenness is a Neolithic monument and may be the oldest henge site in the British Isles. Various traditions associated with the stones survived into the modern era and they form part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site. Maeshowe chambered cairn is about 1.2 km 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. The stones are thin slabs, approximately 300 mm thick with sharply angled tops. Four, up to about 5 m high, were originally elements of a stone circle of up to 12 stones, laid out in an ellipse about 32 m diameter on a levelled platform of 44 m diameter surrounded by a ditch. The ditch is cut into rock by as much as 2 m and is 7 m 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 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. Animal bones were found in the ditch. The pottery links the monument to Skara Brae and Maeshowe. Based on radiocarbon dating, it is thought that work on the site had begun by 3100 BC.

The Heart of Neolithic Orkney was inscribed as a World Heritage site in December 1999. In addition to the Standing Stones of Stenness, the site includes Maeshowe, Skara Brae, the Ring of Brodgar and other nearby sites.

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Address

B9055, Orkney, United Kingdom
See all sites in Orkney

Details

Founded: 3100 BC
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in United Kingdom

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Dave Johns (6 months ago)
Second stop on my tour of the Orkney, the car park is free but quite small and busy with coach tours and camper vans. The stones themselves are spectacular in such a beautiful location.
Paul Robins (6 months ago)
A "must see" if you are on Orkney. One of the best archaeological sites on Orkney. They are simply magnificent!!! Visited with Jo Jo es, Orkney Tour Guide who really brought the Standing Stones of Stenness and the other, closely linked sites, to life
R Altmann (6 months ago)
Interesting place though I would say it’s likely worth going when the daily tour (currently 10am Monday to Friday) is to get some more in-depth information. Also includes a old village right behind.
juanit0x (13 months ago)
They are cool historical stones - the nealy redesigned car park is a treat too!
Jonathan Moss (13 months ago)
Amazing set of standing stones, well worth a visit!
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