|Yes, I had looked at the maps. But it's not until you see it and feel it for yourself do you understand the interconnectednesss and bounty of the sites that surround the Loch of Stenness.
This realisation came to me most clearly from the viewpoint that is Deepdale standing stone just off the main Stromness to Kirkwall road, before you reach Stenness.The stone itself is nothing special - a large single menhir, typically Orcadian, being flat and like a playing card about 6 feet tall on a little rise. But from up there you can see the entire landscape of the Great Sacred Monuments of Stenness including Brodgar, Bookan, Stenness, Unstan, Maeshowe, Watchstone, Barnstoneworth United and tons of tumuli and trashed cairns. Even the summit of Wideford Hill can be seen peeping up over the nearby hills.
We took our time at Deepdale and probably spent and hour and half up there, gobsmacked at the richness of the neolithic landscape and staggered we could see just about all the 'Hollywood' sites. We painted, picnicked, smoked, drank tea, looked, watched the light illuminate the buttercup meadows and turn the loch from airforce blue to turquoise in seconds.
Nearest to us about a half a mile away on a little promentary is the buttercup yellow mound of the Tomb of Unstan.
Beyond Unstan on the horizon Wideford hill, with its bristling antenna, pokes up from the nearer range. We were there a few days ago, at Wideford hill cairn, which I adored.
Let your eye drop and move left and you can just make out the tiny dot of the Barnhouse Stone.
Look left again and the stones of Stenness appear to be directly in front of Maeshowe. In reality they are a couple of fields away.
Look left again and you can see the blade of the Watchstone pointing skywards, but then moving left again comes the best of all: Brodgar! Beautiful Brodgar!
It's an extraordinary view and makes you re-evaluate the word 'wonder'. You wonder about the effort and organisation required by the population to construct all these sites all so close together. You wonder: what was it about this particular landscape that was held to be so sacred? You wonder what faith or fear moved our ancestors to make such awesome and aesthetically pleasing monuments. Seeing it all at once, so big, so complete, so wonderful from Deepdale blew me away.
Posted by Jane
7th July 2004ce
Edited 12th July 2004ce
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