The Ring of Brodgar

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The Ring of Brodgar

This ring of 27 stones (originally 60 stood here, but have been lost or moved over the millenia) have kept their lonely vigil over the sea for around 4000 years, although the precise date of their erection is unknown. The third largest stone circle in Britain, it is almost equal in size to the more famous Avebury complex, and also the most Northerly of Britain's stone circles.

Some of the stones have curious carvings on them, but these date to the Norse era, long after the stones were raised and their true meaning lost to history.

According to local legend, the megaliths are actually giants who were turned to stone by the breaking sun while dancing.

Whatever their origins, the stones vary in height from 7ft to 15ft and sit within a colossal circular ditch that reaches depths of up to nearly 10ft and 30ft wide. With a total circumference of 1250ft and carved out of solid sandstone, this is an imposing statement in the landscape and must have represented an enormous expenditure of manpower.

As with many other circles, the Ring also sits within what seems to be an important network of ritual features - within a mile or two of the ring itself are tombs, smaller stone circles, barrows cairns and more besides.

At various times, local legend has ascribed purpose to the ring and various parts have been nominated as "Temple of the Sun", "Temple of the Moon", "Odin's Stone" and so on. However, there is nothing in historical record to support these names and they likely nothing to be nothing more than local folklore.

See also: folklore

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Author: Ian Freud   |  Last updated: 21st April 2012 | © Weird Island 2010-2019
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