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Archaeology Notes

Event ID 845235

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Archaeology Notes


HY31SW 2 3067 1252

See also HY31SW 11 and HY31SW 12.

(HY 3067 1252) Standing Stones (NR)

OS 6" map, Orkney, 2nd ed., (1903).

The 'Ring of Stenness' (V G Childe and W D Simpson 1961) or 'Stones of Stenness' (RCAHMS 1946), a Class II henge (F W Wainwright 1962), under Ministry of Works guardianship.

As far as can be ascertained this monument originally consisted of a series of standing stones set around the upper margin of a flat-topped mound, outside which, at a distance of about 18-20ft from the lower margin, was a circular bank approximately 234ft in external diameter. The bank and ditch (which divides it from the mound) have been obliterated by cultivation.

The monument now consists of three monoliths, 15 to 17ft high, and the stump of a fourth, 6ft 3ins high, set around the western arc of a circle 104ft in diameter. An altar-like construction in the middle is 'a modern and wholly fanciful addition'.

Information from RCAHMS (JH), 2 March 1966.

RCAHMS 1946.

The Ring of Stenness (As named on the Historic Buildings and Monuments sign), a Class II henge, is generally as described and planned by the above authorities. The stump of a fifth monolith is visible on the north side and the outer bank is traceable in part, along the north and west arcs, by a slight ridge and soil-discolouration in the adjacent ploughed field. The entrances shown on the Commission plan No. 377 (RCAHMS 1946) are not visible.

Resurveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (NKB) 5 May 1966.

RCAHMS 1946.

An early third millenium BC henge and stone circle. Two of the stones and one of the outlying stones were deliberately destroyed in the early 19th century. Excavation revealed the bedding-holes for other stones, and it is likely that there were originally twelve stones set in a cricle about 30m in diameter. Ploughing has all but levelled the henge earthworks.

Bones of cattle, sheep and dog were found in the bottom of the ditch, along with one human finger-bone, and radiocarbon analysis of these finds indicates that the henge was built in the early 3rd millenium BC.

Two outlying stones are likely to have some connection with the henge, the Watch Stone (HY31SW 11) and the Barnhouse Stone (HY31SW 12).

A Ritchie 1996

Holes measuring 800 x 700mm and 180-230mm deep were dug for plaques at three sites in the parish of Stenness, Mainland Orkney. One hole was located near the Ring of Brogar (HY 2946 1346; HY21SE 1), one at the Stones of Stenness (HY 3071 1239; HY21SW 2) and one at Maes Howe (HY 3180 1272). Nothing of archaeological significance was discovered in any of the holes.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

P Sharman 2000

A geophysical survey using magnetometry was undertaken in and around the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site between June and October 2002. Over 30ha was surveyed, including the Ring of Brodgar, the fields to the S of the Stones of Stenness (including Big Howe, HY31SW 31), an area around Bookan chambered cairn, and the fields between Brodgar Farm and the Bridge of Brodgar. Preliminary results have clarified the extent of known sites and discovered several new ones.

Archive to be deposited in Orkney SMR and the NMRS.

Sponsors: HS, Orkney Islands Council, Orkney Archaeology Trust, Orkney College.

N Card 2002.

World Heritage Area; Geophysical survey

N Card (OAT)

A second season of magnetometry survey was undertaken in and around the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage SIte. Over 30ha was surveyed, further clarifying the extent of known sites and locating many new ones. Further survey in the immediate environs of The Ring of Brodgar seemed to emphasise the lack of magnetic enhancement in this area. This is in marked contrast to the area around the Stones of Stenness and on the Ness of Brodgar.

Report to be lodged with Orkney SMR and the NMRS.

Sponsors: HS, Orkney Islands Council, GSB (Bradford), Orkney Archaeology Trust.

A number of descriptions and features about the site appear in editions of 'The Orkney Herald' and 'The Orcadian' between 1879 and 1892 (see References).

M Howe 2005

'The Orkney Herald' in 1908 describes the re-erection of the central dolmen, as well as a general description of the site. The 'John O'Groat Journal' in 1849 mentioned that an 18' stone had been knocked down in 1815.

M Howe 2006

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