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Prone stones found by Stenness Loch

From the Stones Mailing List, some interesting discoveries - posted to the list by Sigurd Towie, whose excellent site is mentioned elsewhere here.

I was going to hold onto this until my complete article appeared in The Orcadian, but following a number of e-mails received today after a story on Radio Orkney this morning, here's the relevant extract:

"While attention over recent years has been firmly on Tankerness and the underground chamber of Minehowe, the emphasis in 2002 shifted firmly back to the West Mainland and the “Neolithic Heart of Orkney”.

There, for the first time in almost 30 years, the area around two of Orkney’s best-known ancient monuments - the Ring of Brodgar and Standing Stones of Stenness – came under close scrutiny.

Not only was a large section of the Ness of Brodgar painstakingly scanned, but a chance discovery of two large stones on the shore of the Stenness loch could shed some light on the construction of the stone circles, in particular how the megaliths were transported from the quarry site.

While walking the eastern shore of the Stenness Loch, Nick Card of Orkney Archaeological Trust (OAT) came across the two prone stones lying by the water. The stones, just to the north of the Wasbister disc barrow, could indicate that after being hauled to the loch after quarrying, the megaliths took to the water for their final leg of the journey. Although Nick is only certain that one of the stones was destined to be a standing stone, the discovery has intriguing parallels with a local tradition that other stones lie within the loch itself.

“It could be that these stones may once have been erected but were knocked or fell down in more recent history,” suggested Nick, “but this seems unlikely. If they had been standing, they would surely have been recorded somewhere. It seems more probable that they were actually on the way somewhere. And if you were moving something that size it makes sense to use the water.”

Staying on the subject of standing stones, work at Vestrafiold in Sandwick over the summer seems to have confirmed that megaliths were indeed quarried there – the location long held to be the source of the Stenness stones. The project, led by Dr Colin Richards of Manchester University, hopes to reveal more about the people who hewed the great stones from the quarry and moved them more than seven miles to the Ness of Brodgar. Previous investigative has concentrated on the stone circles themselves, but Dr Richards’ project could provide an intriguing glimpse behind the scenes of the construction of Orkney’s grandest prehistoric relics. The Vestrafiold work is ongoing and Dr Richards hopes to return in 2003."

Not much else can be said about the Vestrafiold project at present - landowner isn't keen on publicity.

Sigurd Towrie
Blackhall - Kirbister - Stromness - Orkney
Heritage of Orkney:
nickbrand Posted by nickbrand
19th December 2002ce
Edited 19th December 2002ce

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