The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Staney Hill

Standing Stone / Menhir


Visited 9th August 2012

Having a bit more time on Orkney this trip I thought I’d track down some of the less visited stones on the island, and first on the list was the menhir at the aptly named Staney Hill. Taking the minor road off the A965 just before the Maes Howe visitor centre at Tormiston Mill(a right turn if coming from Kirkwall as we were), the road runs right up behind Maes Howe. Not having access to Wideford’s fieldnotes, we carried on up this road passing the Grimeston junction, whilst I kept my eyes peeled for the Stone o’Hindatuin, which soon could be seen in the field to the right. Ellen pulled into a nearby passing place, as there seemed nowhere else to leave the car. The next difficulty then seemed to be the lack of any visible fieldgates. As I’ve often said I don’t feel I’ve had a proper visit to a place unless I can actually touch the stone, I don’t know why it just makes me feel more ‘connected’ with the place, so refusing to be put off by something as trivial as a barbed wire fence, and with no noticeable livestock in the field, I hopped the wire, barely managing to keep the seat of my trousers intact.

Ellen stayed in the car, both in case of having to move it if we had a sudden rush of traffic, and also, having better sense, deciding she’d quite like to keep her clothes intact. Once into the rather large field, I noticed a distant group of cows now glowering at me disinterestedly, as I headed up to the stone which sits on a natural ridge. From here you get a great view, out down to the Loch of Harray, where Stenness is just visible, and the hills of Hoy, still cloud capped rising proud to the south-west. The stone is huge, it must be about 9’ tall. Some stones around the bottom of the menhir look as if they have been packed at the base to pack the stone, and a grassy covering which has covered the stones now makes for an ideal seat, where I write up my fieldnotes.

This is a fine stone, it’s so peaceful up here, even though directly opposite across the road is a house, there’s no-one else around, with only the sounds of the occasional car interrupting the call of the birds. The stone has the usual light dusting of Orcadian sea moss, and seems to gaze towards Hoy like a silent sentinel, just another of Orkney’s many fine stones. On returning to the car we had a number of strange looks from the man living in the house just up the road, who Ellen said had come out of his house three times to suspiciously stare at the car (obviously thinking we were up to no good!) Aside from the slight access difficulties (which I’m sure would be removed if you follow Wideford’s notes!) this stone is definitely worth the visit.
Ravenfeather Posted by Ravenfeather
25th August 2012ce

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