Archaeologists estimate that the Ring of Brodgar was built sometime between 2500BC and 2000BC. There were originally 60 standing stones here, set onto a level platform inside an impressive rock cut ditch that was over 3m deep. This type of monument is known today as a henge. There are two entrances on opposite sides of the circle.
Henge sites occur across the British Isles, many (but not all) with stone circles inside them. Excavation elsewhere suggests that a variety of activities occurred on the platform and many short-lived features such as hearths and individual posts may have been set up at different times. At Brodgar the thin soil has left little trace of past activities and there has been little archaeological excavation to disturb the site, as it is particularly fragile. It is likely, nevertheless, that the ditch served to mark out an area that was particularly venerated; it may be that few people were allowed to enter, or it may be that different members of the community would use the site at different times.
The Ring Today
The Ring of Brodgar is still a special place. Visitors travel from all over the UK and further afield in order to visit the site and it is a well-liked spot for locals. Some people come to relax; others arrive to celebrate a special occasion. The Ring is a popular location for Pagan Weddings, others renew older vows here, the local Brownies currently come to make their promise, and performances of poetry and music are not unknown.
Visitors to the Ring of Brodgar are encourage to keep to the perimeter of the interior when inside. The thin soils of the platform are fragile and vulnerable to damage from the sheer numbers of people who seek to explore the site. It is important to preserve any remaining archaeology. In addition, there are often nesting birds and communities of small mammals and other wildlife who would be susceptible to disturbance.
For more information on the Ring of Brodgar, click on the links below: