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

The Standing Stones of Stenness

Circle henge


The monuments at Stenness held an important part in Orcadian wedding customs over a long period as relayed by the Rev George Low in 1774.

“There was a custom among the lower class of people in this country which has entirely subsided within these twenty or thirty years. Upon the first day of every new year the common people, from all parts of the country, met at the Kirk of Stennis, each person having provision for four or five days; they continued there for that time dancing and feasting in the kirk. This meeting gave the young people an opportunity of seeing each other, which seldom failed in making four or five marriages every year; and to secure each other’s love they had resource to the following solemn engagements:- The parties agreed stole from the rest of their companions and went to the Temple of the Moon, where the woman, in the presence of the man, fell on her knees and prayed to the god Woden (for such was the name of the god they addressed on this occasion) that he would enable her to perform all the promises and obligations she had and was to make to the young man present, after which they both went to the Temple of the Sun, where the man preyed in a like manner before the woman, then they repaired back to the [Odin] stone, and the man being on one side, and the woman on the other, they took hold of each other’s right hand through the hole, and there swore to be constant and faithful to each other. This ceremony was held so very sacred in those times that the person who dared to break the engagement made here was counted infamous and excluded from all society.”

From ‘A Tour Through the Islands of Orkney & Shetland, containing Hints relative to their Ancient, Modern and Natural History’ by Rev. G. Low 1774
Ravenfeather Posted by Ravenfeather
24th August 2012ce

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