Ring of Brodgar
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The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of ScotlandAlternative Name(s)
RING OF BROGAR; NESS OF BRODGAR; CIRCLE AT STENNISCanmore ID
HENGE, RUNE INSCRIBED STONE, STONE CIRCLECounty
HY 2945 1335Latitude, Longitude
HY21SE 1 2945 1335.
(HY 2945 1335) Stone Circle of Brodgar (NR)
OS 6" map, Orkney, 2nd ed., (1903).
A single twig-rune is carved on a boulder in the SW region of the Ring.
M Olsen 1954.
The 'Ring of Brodgar' is a Class II henge monument, under Historic Buildings and Monuments (HBM) Guardianship, incorporating a stone circle 370 ft in diameter. It is bounded by a well-preserved ditch 30 ft wide and 6 ft deep.
The monoliths are mounted at intervals just within the scarp of the enclosing ditch. The positions of at 1 least 40 have been identified: of these, 27 remain upright.
Stone no.3 bears on one of its faces a number of, as yet, unsatisfactorily translated tree-runes and, below them, a small incised cross of simple design. A small stone bearing a tree-rune and a small incised cross was found in the circle during restoration by the Ministry of Works.
RCAHMS 1946; V G Childe and W D Simpson 1961; F T Wainwright 1962.
Visible on air photograph CUCAP GR 44, flown 1951.
The Ring of Brogar (name confirmed locally and appearing on MPBW guide-post) is as described and planned by previous authorities. The ditch is 10.0 m. wide and varies in depth from 0.9m to 1.9 m. The boulder, containing the single twig-rune, could not be located.
Resurveyed at 1/2500.
Visited by OS (RB) 24 April 1966.
SRR 502 Basal organic deposits overlying deep silt infill in north ditch section - depth 0.7m Organic Mud 255bc +-60 375BC +-80
SRR 503 Lower peat in north ditch section - depth 0.6m Organic Mud 375bc +-45 440BC +-70
J L Davidson and A S Henshall 1989.
Holes measuring 800 x 700mm and 180-230mm deep were dug for plaques at three sites in the parish of Stenness, Mainland Orkney. One hole was located near the Ring of Brogar (HY 2946 1346; HY 21 SE 1), one at the Stones of Stenness (HY 3071 1239; HY 21 SW 2) and one at Maes Howe (HY 3180 1272). Nothing of archaeological significance was discovered in any of the holes.
Sponsor: Historic Scotland
P Sharman 2000
A geophysical survey using magnetometry was undertaken in and around the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site between June and October 2002. Over 30ha was surveyed, including the Ring of Brodgar, the fields to the S of the Stones of Stenness (including Big Howe, HY31SW 31), an area around Bookan chambered cairn, and the fields between Brodgar Farm and the Bridge of Brodgar. Preliminary results have clarified the extent of known sites and discovered several new ones.
Archive to be deposited in Orkney SMR and the NMRS.
Sponsors: HS, Orkney Islands Council, Orkney Archaeology Trust, Orkney College.
N Card 2002
World Heritage Area; Geophysical survey
N Card (OAT)
A second season of magnetometry survey was undertaken in and around the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage SIte. Over 30ha was surveyed, further clarifying the extent of known sites and locating many new ones. Further survey in the immediate environs of The Ring of Brodgar seemed to emphasise the lack of magnetic enhancement in this area. This is in marked contrast to the area around the Stones of Stenness and on the Ness of Brodgar.
Report to be lodged with Orkney SMR and the NMRS.
Sponsors: HS, Orkney Islands Council, GSB (Bradford), Orkney Archaeology Trust.
HY 30 13 (area) A third season of geophysical survey was undertaken between March and October 2004 in and around the `Heart of Neolithic Orkney¿ World Heritage Site (DES 2003, 102). Over 35ha were surveyed using magnetometry. Results have further clarified the extent of known sites and discovered many new ones.
Further survey between the Ness of Brodgar and the Ring of Brodgar (centre HY 299 131) revealed boundary features, possible unknown burnt mounds and barrows, and areas of general background increased magnetic response. This response is similar to that surrounding the Neolithic complex on the Ness of Brodgar, which test pitting has shown is the result of Neolithic midden-enhanced soils.
The area to the NW of Maes Howe (centre HY 314 129) was dominated by geological anomalies and modern disturbance. However, isolated features may represent a possible new settlement site and other archaeological features.
A variety of responses have been detected to the SW of Maes Howe (centre HY 314 126). The northern half of the area is dominated by zones of magnetic disturbance generated by igneous dikes, and throughout the area short linear ferrous-type responses have been noted which are consistent with a series of land drains. Potentially archaeologically significant anomalies have been noted in the SW, including weak suggestions of an oval enclosure and general areas of increased magnetic response. In addition, a group of well-defined anomalies suggesting possible enclosures has been located further S.
Reports lodged with Orkney SMR and the NMRS.
Sponsors: HS, Orkney Islands Council, GSB (Bradford), Orkney Archaeological Trust, Orkney College.
N Card and S Ovenden 2004
In 1892 'The Orkney Herald' reported that stones from a dyke end were used in the Ring of Brodgar. Other mentions of the site are made in 'The Orkney Herald' and 'The Orcadian' - see References.
'The Orkney Herald' reported the discovery of runes on a stone stump uncovered in remedial work (1907). In 1908 7 stones were re-erected and an axe was found. The site was described in a number of articles.
M Howe 2006
'The Orcadian' in 1906 mentioned that the largest stone had been re-erected, after being knocked down in around 1814.
M Howe 2006
HY 3 1 (vicinity) A fourth season of geophysical survey was undertaken between January and November 2005 in and around the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site (DES 2004, 97). This included more than 40ha of gradiometer survey, together with targeted resistance and ground penetrating radar (GPR).
GPR survey was conducted over Salt Knowe (HY 293 132) and Fresh Knowe (HY 296 133). However, the nature of the ground cover caused poor contact and considerable attenuation of the signal, resulting in little useful data being retrieved.
Reports lodged with Orkney SMR and NMRS.
Sponsors: HS A, Orkney Islands Council, Orkney Archaeological Trust, Orkney College Geophysics Unit.
N Card and S Ovenden 2005
A programme of archaeological evaluation was undertaken at the site of the proposed Dyke O Sean visitor car park servicing the UNESCO designated World Heritage site of the Ring of Brodgar in Steness Parish, Orkney. The site is centred on HY 29329 13738, on the eastern shore of the Brodgar Isthmus on the promontory between the Loch of Harray to the east, and the Loch of Stenness to the west. From the site, the sites of the Ring of Brodgar (c.300 m to the S), the Stones of Stenness (1.8km to the SE) and Maes Howe (2.6km to the E) are visible.
Twelve machine-dug trenches were opened across the area of the proposed development with two additional hand-dug cuttings made over two small upstanding mounds within the development area. No archaeological remains were identified within the machine cut trenches and the low mounds were proven to represent cleared material from modern (post-World Warr II) activity at the site. The findings from the evaluation can now be used to assist guidance of the appropriate management of the site operations involved in the construction of the car park.
M Carruthers 2006
The visitor car park has now been completed with display boards and is centred at HY 29487 13503.
Visited by RCAHMS (DE) 15 September 2008