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Publication Account

Date 1996

Event ID 1016342

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


After suffering deliberate destruction of two of its stones and one of its outlying standing stones (the Stone of Odin) in the early 19th century, restoration was carried out in the early 20th century and four stones of the circle now survive, the tallest over 5m high. Excavation revealed the bedding-holes for other stones, and it is likely tha t there were originally twelve stones set in a circle about 30m in diameter. Although ploughing has all but levelled the henge earth works, the circle once stood within a ditch and bank with an overall diameter of about 44m and an entrance causeway on the north, and excavation has shown the ditch to be 7m wide at ground-level and over 2m deep, cut into to solid rock. In the centre of the circle was found a square setting of flat slabs and, aligned between this and the entrance, the bedding slots for a series of stone and timber uprights, but none of these last features is now visible.

Bones of cattle, sheep and dog were found in the, bottom of the ditch, along with one human fingerbone, and radiocarbon analysis of the bones indicates that the henge was built in the early 3rd millennium BC, a date confirmed by discovery of Grooved Ware pottery similar to that from the contemporary villages of nearby Barnhouse (no. 62) and Skara Brae, some 10km to the northwest (no.61).

Two outlying standing stones are likely to have some connection with the henge: the Watch Stone, a magnificent slab, 5.6m tall, which stands close to the causeway between the two promontories, and the Barnhouse Stone, some 700m south-east of the circle.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Orkney’, (1996).

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