Ring of Brodgar – Orkney, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

Ring of Brodgar

The true age of this ancient stone circle is unknown, but its stunning vista isn't in question. 


The majestic circle of standing stones known as the Ring of Brodgar is part of the larger Heart of Neolithic Orkney, but it sets itself apart thanks to its spare beauty and relative mystery.

Created sometime around 2500-2000 BC, the exact purpose of the ring has never been discovered, but it is likely that it served a ritual purpose of some kind and may have been linked to the nearby Stones of Stenness. Originally there would have been 60 evenly spaced stones, but most of the rock spires have fallen or been lost down the centuries. Today only 27 of the original ring still stand, surrounded by a wide, earthen groove. The height of the stones ranges between smaller stones at seven feet tall, and the largest reaching to above 15 feet, creating a circle that would have been over 300 feet in diameter.

Surprisingly, archaeological work on the site has been rather light, so evidence of any other structures that may have accompanied the standing stones is scarce. In addition to whatever else may have once stood on the site, concrete information on exactly the purpose of the ring is equally elusive. A small number of ancient carvings including a cross and the name “Bjorn” can be found among the stones, but they provide very little evidence as to the site’s purpose.

Regardless of the lack of archaeological evidence on the site, it remains a beautiful and historic destination that creates an atmosphere of mystery and history.    

Know Before You Go

The site is free to access. There is parking located nearby. Guides are available to answer questions and tours are provided. Check the website for days and times. Though the footpath has artificial netting, those with mobility issues may want to use care and caution.

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