Published On: Thu, Feb 20th, 2020

3 Mysterious Destinations To Visit in Orkney, Scotland

Scotland is an attractive destination for many reasons, including its history, remarkable scenery, its haggis and, of course, its famous whisky. However, the country also hosts a number of unusual and fascinating attractions to visit, including a mysterious and advanced Neolithic settlement, a mysterious ring of stones and a Scottish version of Stonehenge.

Image: skarabrae.jpg by Shadowgate on Flickr


  • Skara Brae Neolithic settlement


Skara Brae is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a mysterious Neolithic settlement on the Orkney Islands of Scotland. The Neolithic settlement is located on the west coast of Mainland Orkney and is said to date back to 3100-2500 BCE.

Pictured above, Skara Brae is a group of ten houses, constructed from flat stones, stacked without the use of mortar. Archaeologists believe only around 50 people would have lived here at any time.

The homes feature several pieces of stone-built furniture, including seating, cupboards and dressers. Several mysterious carved stone artifacts were uncovered at the site and scholars are still trying to establish their purpose.

Skara Brae is thought to be among the earliest settlements to have its own toilet and sewer system, with each hut carrying its waste to a centrally placed drainage system which then fed it to the sea. Experts believe each drain was lined with tree bark to make it watertight.



  • Ring of Brodgar


Staying in the same area, the Ring of Brodgar is another fascinating site thought to also be part of Neolithic Orkney. Experts cannot agree on the age of the site, but believe it was created in or around 2500-2000 BCE.

Also, no one can agree to its purpose, although experts do believe it had some kind of ritual use. Originally it is said to have 60, evenly spaced stones standing in a circle. However, many of the stones have fallen down or been lost over the centuries. These days only 27 stand, encircled by a groove in the earth. Their heights range from seven feet to 15 feet in height and the diameter of the circle would originally have been around 300 feet.

While little is known of the origins of the Ring of Brodgar, a visit to the site offers up some amazing views over the surrounding countryside. The site itself is very photogenic and fabulous images can be taken of the stones, whatever the time of year in Scotland, whether with the greenery of summer and the stark, iciness of winter.


  • The Standing Stones of Stenness


Most people know of Stonehenge in England, but one of the most ancient British henges stands in a grassy field in Orkney, Scotland. 

There were originally 12 stones, standing in a circle, encompassed by a shallow ditch. However, many of the stones have since fallen, with only four still standing tall, the tallest of which is almost 17 feet in height. In the center of the circle stands the remains of an ancient hearth, with a path leading to it, which makes archaeologists believe the site was used for some type of ritual. 

No one knows for sure what their original purpose was, but today the Standing Stones of Stennes make for attractive, picture postcard views to take home.

Visit the unusual and mysterious side of Scotland this year, especially these three fascinating sites in Orkney.

Author: Anne Sewell


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