One of the many highlights of our Orkney week had to be seeing and touching the standing stones that are scattered around the island. I say 'scattered' which of course they seem to be to us, because no one really knows why they are there, or why they are where they are, or what the significance of them and their arrangement might be.
All a big mystery so a lot of 'possibly' and 'maybe', but no certainty.
Our residence was very near to the Standing Stones of Stenness..
and just around the corner from the Ring of Brodgar, twenty seven stones in a circle over a hundred metres wide...
and we had a lovely walk up there one evening to the backdrop of a magical Orkney sky.
There is something amazing, and very difficult to describe, about standing and touching these stones knowing that Neolithic men and women did likewise. I can get quite carried away wondering how the stones got there and stayed upright, and what ceremonies or rituals may have taken place around them.
And what did the people know of the world and what was out there.
Just along from the Ring of Brodgar is the Ness, now for six weeks of the year the site of a major archaeological dig instigated seriously following a BBC programme which we too had happened to see on New Year's Day this year. In A History of Ancient Britain - Orkney's Stone Age Temple, Neil Oliver highlighted the fundamental importance of the site and the contribution it makes to our understanding of Neolithic man. It was apparently built centuries before Stonehenge which surely gives Orkney the edge in the 'How-To' stakes, though as all the archaeologists agree this is not a competition, but there is now great excitement surrounding the discoveries at Brodgar.
We found it astonishing to look at the reconstruction images put together for the BBC programme which envisaged the original site looking like this...
Sadly we missed the annual six week Ness of Brodgar dig which has just finished, Bookhound would have loved to have set too with his trowel, but we did take in the exhibition at the museum while we were there and have been following the dig's progress this year on the Orkneyjar blog.
It has been a real treat to look back through the Orkney pictures this week and thank you for your company. Tomorrow's Colourboration will wind up the this virtual visit (for now, I fully expect more little inspirations to creep in now and again) but here's my favourite picture... the Tinker saying farewell to Stromness this time, and just before we realised they were about to serve breakfast on the ferry so off we dashed,
and of course we have all promised ourselves a trip back.