United Kingdom
Stenness

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  • Day86

    A little bit of the past

    August 25, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    Erst ein kleiner Ausflug nach Stromness mit einem schönen Ausblick auf die Insel Hoy, dann zum Unstan cairn (ein kleines begehbares Hügelgrab) und schließlich zu den Standing Stones of Stenness und den Ring of Brodgar. Im Gegensatz zu Stonehenge sind diese Steinkreise kostenfrei zu besichtigen. Auch hier ist man noch am grübeln wofür die stehen. 5000 Jahre alte Geschichte ist schwer zu interpretieren.Read more

    Dave Waller

    Lovely photo's Marcus.

    8/28/18Reply
    Marcus Hein

    Thanks.

    8/29/18Reply
     
  • Day10

    Standing stones of Stenness

    September 15, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    Possibly the oldest standing stones in Britain, some of them aren’t there anymore because the farmer who owned the land got annoyed that people would walk on his property to see them that he started knocking them down.

    Even in the 18th century the site was still associated with traditions and rituals, by then relating to Norse gods. Other antiquarians documented the stones and recorded local traditions and beliefs about them. One stone, known as the "Odin Stone" which stood in the field to the north of the henge, was pierced with a circular hole, and was used by local couples for plighting engagements by holding hands through the gap. It was also associated with other ceremonies and believed to have magical power. There was a reported tradition of making all kinds of oaths or promises with one's hand in the Odin Stone; this was known as taking the "Vow of Odin".
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  • Day21

    Heart of Neolithic Orkney

    August 25, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    Not only mainland Scotland but its northernmost isles have been on my list of places to visit. Being only an hour and a half by ferry from Scrabster (on the mainland), the Orkney Islands are readily accessible, even for a day trip. Comprised of around 70 islands, less than a third are occupied by Orkney's 21,500 inhabitants. Our rather grand ferry took us past the Old Man of Hoy, a 137m vertical stack of the west coast of the island of Hoy, apparently popular with rock climbers (presumably when the weathers a bit finer!).

    With only 2 and a half days to explore, we deferred exploration of the pretty town of Stromness, instead heading straight to Orkney's capital Kirkwall, where we would pick up our hire car and settle into our B and B. In contrast to our previous few days amongst the beautiful Scottish Highlands, Orkney's agricultural expanses were somewhat of a culture shock. However, we weren't there for the scenery. The Orkney archipelago boasts the densest concentration of archaeological sites in Britain, and this would be the focus of our exploration.

    After settling in to our B and B, we easily navigated our way to the car hire venue, only to be met by a rather dour Scottish woman. Having exhausted all other car hire options, I had booked with this company, knowing that we'd only have the car for just over a day. "We're not open on Sunday" she reiterated and "No you can't drop the vehicle and keys off - I have to check the vehicle myself when you return it". Deciding against paying an extra £40 for 4 hours, we opted to return the car 24 hours later, hoping to locate another vehicle for the remainder of our trip.

    What this meant was that we then spent the next 10 hours trying to squeeze in as many of the neolithic attractions as we could. Luckily many are a relatively short distance from Kirkwall and before long we'd come across Cunween Hill Chambered cairn. Perched well above the surrounding farms, this 5000 year old communal burial chamber was used for generations and then seemingly abandoned. Feeling as if we were in the Great Race, we dashed to the hugely impressive Standing Stones of Stenness, giant monoliths that tower above their surroundings, their circular arrangement perplexing generations of archaeologists. A nearby pre-historic Barnhouse Village gave us a prelude to the Stone Age village of Skara Brae (which we would visit later that evening). The equally impressive Ring of Brodgar rose hauntingly in the setting sun. Along with the Maeshowe burial mound, these Neolithic remains comprise the Heart of Neolithic Orkney, declared a World Heritage site in 1999. While this collective name is a modern idea, the area was clearly an important place in the past.

    Driving further north and coastward, the single lane roads were largely devoid of traffic. The local horses offered a short respite, as did a walk along the beach at Marwick Head, Kitchener's Memorial reminding us of the loss of the HMS Hampshire (and Minister of War Lord Kitchener) to a mine off the coast in 1916.

    Despite our best efforts, we failed to find dinner in the sparsely populated north. Arriving back in the "metropolis" of Kirkwall after 9pm proved equally challenging! Luckily a friendly "local" (ex-South African Enzo) guided us to a passable curry house. Satiated, we finally collapsed into our bed, wondering what the morrow would bring.
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  • Day22

    Brochs and Broughs

    August 26, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    Through our very helpful B and B hosts we had managed to secure another hire vehicle - a lumbering Citroen Relay van which would do us until our late night ship to Shetland Islands the next day. Prior to pick up however we had a morning to fill and so decided to explore the Broch of Gurness. Brochs are unique to Scotland. There are over 500 of these towers throughout northern and western Scotland and the islands.

    The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age settlement, one of 6 on the mainland, which faces 5 on the shores of the nearby island of Rousay. Between them lies the shores of Eynhallow Sound, an important navigational route and food source. Before excavation in 1929, Gurness was simply a large, grass-covered mound. Indeed there are yet-to-be-discovered settlements lurking amongst the mounds on Orkney - Orcadians have a bit of a thing about mounds.

    We found that the best way to really get a feel for this site was to walk down what would have been the entrance way (this is more effectively captured by video than photograph). Partially eroded by the sea, the layout of the village is still very evident and if you close you're eyes it's almost possible to imagine the sights, sounds and smells of this productive village.

    Further north lay the Brough of Birsay. Both Brough and Birsay derive from the Norse word borg, meaning fortified place and it's easy to see how this fortified island village would have been an effective barrier to invasion. Accessible only for a couple of hours either side of low tide, this island village shows evidence of Pictish, Norse and medieval occupation. Picts (meaning Painted People) lived in northern Scotland between 300 and 800 AD and were probably descendants of the Iron Age population. They left no written records so little is known about them. We found it difficult to differentiate between buildings from the different periods, which were sometimes built on top of earlier occupations. Either that or perhaps we'd saturation point on the historic front. A long walk to a spectacular lighthouse overlooking an equally spectacular coast line revived our enthusiasm. Sufficient at least for us to head out for a night of traditional Orcadian music at a local pub.
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  • Day4

    Ring of Brodgar

    June 13, 2019 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌧 7 °C

    Sehr rätselhafter und magischer Ort. Von der Fläche her größer als Stonehenge. Genauso wie Stonehenge findet man magnetische Kraftfelder. Der größte Stein ist nach Osten ausgerichtet, am längsten Tag des Jahres scheint die Sonne über Stein genau in die Mitte des Steinkreises. Vermutlich, damit die Menschen wussten, wann sie sähen und ernten müssen. Sehr wahrscheinlich war die Anlage eine Grabstätte. Leider darf man nur außen herum laufen. Bei dem Wetter ging das relativ schnell.

    Anschließend Stadtbummel im Regen in der Hauptstadt Kirkwall und Rückfahrt mit der Fähre nach Thurso.
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  • Day7

    Orkney Islands

    June 4, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌫 9 °C

    Orkney was probably our favourite place we visited In Scotland and not what we were expecting. At the very top of the UK, we were expecting wild weather and rugged landscapes, but it was actually quite a calm, quiet and incredibly friendly place with so much history going back at least 5000 years!
    Our first stop was in Stromness on a nice little campsite right on the peninsula. Cheap and cheerful with a nice little common room. Stromness itself is very quiet, but has a number of good pubs with v friendly Orcadians. Madeleine annoyed Andy by singing Peter Maxwell Davies constantly and we can confirm that it is not in fact a nuclear wasteland.
    We decided to attempt our week sans car and whilst we managed pretty well with just our packs, Orkney is not that easy to get around on foot. The bus we wanted to catch didn't turn up so we hired bikes and rode to Skara Brae and Marwick Head. The trip eventually ended in disaster when Madeleine got the chain wedged (and I mean really wedged) in the frame. Covered in oil, we knocked on a door, borrowed someone's phone and the nice bike man came to fetch us and take us home...
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  • Day8

    Leaving Orkney to Peterhead

    July 27, 2019 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Leaving day. We had breakfast and tidied up. Left the lodge about 9.30 am. Lovely morning. Arrived in Stromness in time to see the ferry arriving.
    We saw the Old Man Of Hoy stack as we passed Hoy island. Arrived back in Scabster just on 12.30 pm and headed over to John O'Groats. Took lots of pictures of the signpost. Norma drove from there to Tain, home of Glenmorangie Distillery. Arrived there about 4.40pm. Quick visit to the shop.
    I took over for the drive down to Peterhead. Stopped for dinner enroute. Arrived in Peterhead after 9pm
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Stenness