To my mind one of the finest standing stones in Orkney, and so easy to visit, as you head up towards the equally fantastic Brough of Birsay on the A967. The huge 12' high bulk of the stone is unmissable to your left as you head north towards Birsay. We pulled into a nearby lane, just to the left as you pass the gate to the field, where it is easy to park at the side of the road while you visit the stone.
Although there are many stones on Orkney this one seems to have a real character, and is in a lovely setting near the coast, and looking down to its favourite watering hole of the Loch of Boardhouse.
Letting myself into the empty field through the nearby gate it's easy enough to duck under the rickety barbed wire fence which cages in the stone (presumably in an effort to curtail it's nocturnal yuletide wanderings!). A brisk Orcadian wind batters me as I hug the stone, but the gorgeous blue sky and shelter provided by the menhir encourage me to stay a while, and just take in the splendour of this huge stone which has stood here for so long, an ancient landmark even when the Norsemen were here, the name of the neighbouring farm, Stanger, coming from the old Norse 'steinn-garðr' meaning 'Stone Farm'.
Soon I know we'll have to move on down to Birsay, as the sun is bright and sparkling over the sea, beckoning us down to the coast, but you can't ignore a visit to a stone such as this, just as long as you don't get in the way of it's drinking habits!
This is a huge stone very close to the road so you can’t really miss it.
We parked on the verge and I went over for a close up look.
As I was standing next to the stone when the local farmer pulled up in his tractor.
‘Want to buy the stone?’ he asked in I assume a joking manner.
‘No thanks’; I replied ‘It won’t fit on the roof rack’
‘Nay bother’ says he and off he tootled back to the farm!
You would need a seriously large vehicle to transport this 4 metre high monster.
The stone was covered in that ‘hairy’ lichen I have seen so much of.
Wheeliebin. But this ain't no trash. It's a whopper!
In a landscape surrounded by shedloads of fabulous chambered cairns, littered with single standing stones, and the most romantic stone circle I've ever seen* it's easy to overlook or not truly appreciate places like this.
When we parked up next to it, I thought 'yeah, yeah, just another standing stone', but get up close and FEEL this one - it gets so much BIGGER the close you get. It must be 14 feet tall and perhaps 6 feet wide at its broadest point.
And it must be highly dangerous because the landowner has caged it in with viscious barbed wire. If you're up at the top end of Mainland, near the Brough of Birsay, swing by here, its worth a glance at least.
RCAHMS NMRS No. HY22NE 3 at HY25312629.
Other names Stanger and the Stone o'Quoybune .
On the corner of the road junction before the Birsay Community Centre looking very forlorn . Looks very plain even for a standing stone .
In the neighbouring parish of Birsay there is one of these Druidical stones, with a rather strange and tragic history attached to it. The legend runs that every Hogmanay night, as the clock strikes the hour of twelve, this stone begins to walk or move towards Birsay Loch. When the edge of the loch is reached it quietly dips its head into the rippling waters. Then, to remain firm and immovable until the next twelve months pass away, it as silently returns to its post.
It was never considered safe for any one to remain out of doors at midnight, and watch its movements upon Hogmanay. Many stories are current of curious persons who dared to watch the stone's proceedings, and who the next morning were found lying corpses by its side.
The latest story of the kind is that of a young gentleman from Glasgow, who formed the resolve to remain up all night, and find out for himself the truth or falsehood about this wonderful stone. One Hogmanay accompanied only by the cold silvery beams of the moon, the daring youth began his watch. As time wore on and the dread hour of midnight approached, he began to feel some little terror in his heart, and an eerie feeling crept slowly over his limbs. At midnight he discovered that, in his pacing to and fro, he had come between the stone and the loch; and, as he looked towards the former he fancied that he saw it move. From that moment he lost all consciousness, and his friends found him in the grey dawn lying in a faint. By degrees he came to himself; but he could not satisfy enquirers whether the stone had really moved and knocked him down on its way, or whether his imagination had conjured up the assault.
There is another tale, of a more tragic nature, related of this walking stone. One stormy December day a vessel was shipwrecked upon the shore of Birsay, and all hands save one were lost. The rescued sailor happened to find refuge in a cottage close by this stone; and, hearing the story of its yearly march, he resolved to see for himself all that human eyes might be able to discover. In spite of all remonstrances, he sallied forth on the last night of the old year; and, to make doubly sure, he seated himself on the very pinnacle of the stone. There he awaited the events of the night. What these were no mortal man can tell; for the first morning of the new year dawned upon the corpse of the gallant sailor lad, and local report has it that the walking stone rolled over him as it proceeded to the loch.