Delve into the mysteries of this prehistoric landmark, comprising a ring of standing stones set against the wild landscape of the Orkney Islands.
The Ring of Brodgar is both an enigmatic historical attraction and an area of spectacular natural beauty. Here, 27 standing stones form a perfect circle with a diameter of about 340 feet (104 meters). Examine the UNESCO-listed site, which sits amid the rolling hills and tranquil lochs of the Orkney Mainland.
Much of the history of this landmark remains a mystery, such as why and how it was constructed. Historians believe that the site probably dates from between 2500 and 2000 B.C. and would once have contained about 60 different stones. Try to guess the purpose of the monument; popular theories suggest it could be a prehistoric observatory or a place of pagan worship.
Rangers from Historic Scotland lead guided tours around the site throughout the summer. Put on a pair of sturdy boots and join them. Explore the Ring of Brodgar and venture across to the Stones of Stenness, diverting to enjoy the wildlife at the nature reserve. Otters, wildfowl, skylarks and hares populate the protected countryside around the circle.
Several burial mounds lie next to the Ring of Brodgar. Head toward Loch Stenness to find Fresh Knowe and Plumcake Knowe, two of the larger archaeological sites, which were excavated in the mid-19th century.
Take dramatic photos of the stones set against the surrounding countryside. The ring is located on a small strip of land that separates Lochs Harray and Stenness and is surrounded by heather-covered moorland. Locals recommend visiting at sunrise or sunset for the most breathtaking views of the ancient site.
The henge, along with the nearby Standing Stones of Stenness, the burial tomb at Maeshowe and the prehistoric village of Skara Brae, form the Heart of Neolithic Orkney, a UNESCO site. Visit all of the attractions for a more complete picture of the island's ancient history.
The Ring of Brodgar is about 10 minutes away from Stromness by car and has on-site parking. Join a ranger tour taking place every day in June, July and August in the early afternoon.