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Discover ancient history at the Standing Stones of Stenness. This collection of monoliths forms one of the oldest henge sites in the British Isles and is an ideal starting point to explore the prehistoric legacy of the Orkney Islands. The stunning landscape and diverse wildlife provide additional appeal to this iconic Orcadian landmark.
The stones of Stenness were raised about 5,400 years ago in a henge formation, with a ditch forming an ellipse around the site. Like many similar stone circles in the U.K., the origin and exact purpose of the monument is shrouded in mystery, although most experts suggest it was likely used for religious observances or early astronomy.
Take a guided tour of the site, led by one of Historic Scotland's rangers. The tour leads visitors to Stenness and the neighboring Ring of Brodgar, as well as through the surrounding nature reserve. Watch for otters, hares and several different bird species which inhabit this area. The tours run every day in June, July and August in the early afternoon.
Look for the impressive Watchstone monolith, which stands separately from the ring. The 19-foot (5.6-meter) stone marks the entrance to the strip of land between two lochs, where the Ring of Brodgar sits. Visit this famous Neolithic henge, where 27 stones form a perfect circle.
Walk north of the stone circle to reach the Barnhouse Settlement, an archaeological excavation of a Neolithic village. Inspect the remains of 15 ancient buildings, the biggest of which is believed to have been a meeting room. Enjoy the wild, windswept landscape and admire views across Loch Stenness and out onto the hills of Hoy in the distance.
The stones at Stenness and Brodgar are part of the UNESCO-listed site, the Heart of Neolithic Orkney, which also includes the excavated burial mound at Maeshowe and the prehistoric village of Skara Brae. For a more comprehensive understanding of Orkney’s Neolithic heritage, be sure to see all four monuments. The Standing Stones of Stenness are less than 10 minutes away from Stromness by car. Use the site’s available parking.
Situated in Stromness, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Mainland and Standing Stones of Stenness. Maes Howe and Ring of Brogdar are also within 2 miles (3 km).
Located in the heart of Stromness, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Piers Art Centre and Stromness Museum. Standing Stones of Stenness and Maes Howe are also within 6 mi (10 km).
Situated in a rural location, this bed & breakfast is within 2 miles (3 km) of Mainland, Stromness Ferry Terminal and Piers Art Centre. Stromness Museum is 1.8 mi (2.9 km) away.
Situated in Harray, this hotel is within 6 mi (10 km) of Standing Stones of Stenness, Maes Howe and Ring of Brogdar. Skara Brae and Stromness Museum are also within 12 mi (20 km).
Situated in Kirkwall, this hotel is steps away from Mainland and Orkney Wireless Museum. St. Magnus Cathedral and Orkney Museum are also within 10 minutes.
Situated in Stromness, this holiday home is within 2 miles (3 km) of Mainland, Piers Art Centre and Stromness Ferry Terminal. Stromness Museum is 1.7 mi (2.8 km) away.
Located in the heart of Stromness, this cottage is steps away from Mainland and Stromness Ferry Terminal. Piers Art Centre and Stromness Museum are also within 15 minutes.
Situated in Stromness, this apartment building is 1.1 mi (1.8 km) from Piers Art Centre and 1.6 mi (2.6 km) from Stromness Museum. Standing Stones of Stenness and Maes Howe are also within 6 mi (10 km).