It’s a gorgeous day as we head down to South Ronaldsay on my obsessive quest to visit every little mark on the O.S. map that could possibly be an ancient site. Today will be a treat though, as I’m on the hunt for a standing stone, which should hopefully be more visible than some of the indeterminate lumps and bumps I encounter when looking for some of the more obscure sites I’ve yet to see.
Traveling south down the main A961 on South Ronaldsay the red phone box, just after the turn to Sandwick, makes a good indicator of the left turn you need to take into the lane which leads to the stone. The lane narrows and becomes more potholed, looking as if it will peter out at any minute, but putting our faith in the O.S. map and persevering with the bumpy conditions brings us to a handy parking spot at the end of the road. You can access a path down to the beach from here, but our destination lies in the opposite direction, as we head towards the stone that we’d spotted on our approach, near the crest of the hill behind us.
Clambering over a field gate just up the lane, back the way we’d come, gave us access into the field adjacent to that which held the stone, clearly visible and beckoning us on, and an open entranceway took us into its field.
The stone at Stews is around 6’ in height, fenced in behind a low and rickety barbed wire enclosure, the reddish stone is almost entirely swathed in Orkney’s ubiquitous lichens. I step over the barbed wire fence so as to get up close and personal with the stone, and settled myself down, relatively comfortably perched amongst the chocking stones visible around the base.
The siting of the stone is divine, fine views open out to sea, looking out across Newark Bay. The mossy stone is cushioned against my back, the sun warm on my face, the honking of Greylag Geese strutting around the moorland at the top of the hill the only sounds to be heard, and I could almost doze off sat here in the little barbed wire pen.
I take my typical variety of photo’s from every conceivable angle, whilst Ellen photographs me looking like an exhibit in a human zoo, (the rare lesser spotted megalith enthusiast in their natural habitat!). This is another of those stones that takes on a different appearance from each angle, looking like a stout pillar from the side on, the other faces being triangular and fin-like. It’s a lovely spot here, easy to get to and a stone that’s well worth a visit. On a day like today we take advantage afterwards and head down to the beach, a lovely stretch of sand that we’ve got completely to ourselves, well if you don’t count the Oystercatchers!