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

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Brian Leathers (2 years ago)
Awesome to stand among ancient stones. Felt so connected to the ancient ancestors.
Lord Narnia of Potter (2 years ago)
I stayed right next door and had the best week of my life. Would highly recommend to take pictures when the sun is setting instead of during the day. Also, make sure to find the sheep that likes being pet. I missed out of petting it and am now highly disappointed.
Craig Harrison (2 years ago)
Had a brief stop from public bus round the Mainland. If had own transport could spend an hour or so (weather permitting) admiring this remarkable structure and the small loch beside it.
Julie Hodgkinson (2 years ago)
Fascinating place. Larger than I'd imagined. Can be very busy. Stunning.
Alice Krausova (2 years ago)
Interesting place to visit, very close to another archaeological site Ring of Brodgar. Despite there's just few stones left from the original monument, you can feel the special atmosphere of this site. Parking is possible just in front of the site gate but can be quite muddy. Seals can be seen in water nearby!
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