When I arrived at the site a Historic Scotland ‘Ranger’ was just finishing giving a talk.
During the summer months there are free talks given at both Stenness and Brodgar.
Surely these buildings are related to the stone circle?
Between the building and the loch I noticed two large stones.
One is standing (right on the loch side) and about 1 metre high. It looks old and was covered in lichen.
The other is prostrate and is about 2 metres x 1 metre.
I have not seen any mention of these stones before so I assume they are ‘modern’?
Whilst we were "ooohing" and "aaaahhing" at the wonder of it all at Stenness, Alan had wandered off towards the Barnhouse site. For him, this was an incredibly personal journey, returning to Orkney for the first time since he worked on the excavations at Barnhouse in the late 1980s. Again, I was almost dumb-founded by the archaeological remains of this site; where else can you see such outstanding remains of what was clearly a domestic location, situated so close to monuments such as Stenness and Brodgar? One of the things that has always frustrated me when I have visited sites across the UK and Ireland is "where the bloody hell did they live?" Barnhouse goes some way to easing that frustration and gives an insight into the domestic lives of these monument builders. To me, this is as important and revealing a site as Skara Brae and yet we had the place to ourselves. No tourist buses, no visitor centre and no guides telling us what we can and can't do. Alan explained that the Loch had not existed during the Neolithic period and there was likely to be more archaeological remains under the water. We wandered around, stumbling upon large stones in the landscape and raised mounds, wondering at what it all meant. Fascinating.
A short hop acros the stile from the stones of Stenness, Barnhouse has two anomalous buildings. They certaintly are bigger than both those surrounding them, and the ones at Skara Brae. It has been suggested that they are not dwellings, but maybe some kind of communal space related to the Stones of Stenness.
There are more structures still under the surface, the whole site having not yet been fully excavated.
This Neolithic settlement is contemporary with Maes Howe, Stennes and Brodgar and may well have been home to the people who built the monuments.
One of the houses is of a type I've not come across before in that it is more or less symmetrical about the entrance, sort of a semi-detached or duplex. However, the symmetry is not exact as one of the dwellings is bigger than the other.