Wednesday 23 December 2009

The Ring of Brodgar

Just along the road from Stenness is the magnificent Ring of Brodgar, a very large stone circle set on a gentle rise, visible from many miles around. The stones make a dramatic skyline and have a tangible presence. When in use, the circle must have been a very potent place.

Some are fallen or missing, but the outline of the outer ring of stones is very clear.

Like Stenness, the stones slope at the upper edge, mirroring the Ward Hill on Hoy

The stone itself is very characterful, and doesn't come from the immediate vicinity

Wednesday 16 December 2009

The Stones of Stenness

In the summer we spent a week in Orkney. It turned out to be a wet and windy week so we didnt't do as much sea kayaking as we had hoped. We more than made up for it in exploring Orkney's fabulous ancient monuments.

We were utterly blown away by the standing stones, stone circles and remains. Set in the stark yet very green Orkney landscape, they retain a powerful and emotive presence. This is one of the Stones of Stenness. A blade of rock transported and raised at great effort. It and it's companions dominate the narrow neck of land between Lochs Harray and Stenness

The stones seem to have been placed where they would be visible to all the inhabitants of an area. From Stenness one can see the chambered tomb at Maes Howe and several other stone circles and monument sites.

The great majority of the stones have a sloping top, and the slope is almost always in the same direction. This seems to mirror the slope angle and orientation of the Ward Hill on Hoy; which is visble from all of the stones. It can surely be no coincidence that the midwinter sun sets behind this end of the Ward Hill - the winter solstice was one of the most momentous times of the ancient year.

Thursday 3 December 2009

A Maiden Voyage

Back in early summer we took delivery of my wife's boat; a Rockpool Alaw supplied by Karitek. We decided on a nice place for the first paddle - Ardmair near Ullapool. We launched from the curving shingle beach and headed off in very calm conditions.

Ben Mor Coigach's summit was just in cloud as we paddled between Isle Martin and the mainland to explore the Iron Age fort below the hill's flank.

The new boat sparkled in the sunshine and seemed to match the colour of the sky on a beautiful day for a maiden voyage.