Spiritual Ring of Brodgar in the Orkney Isles

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The spiritual Ring of Brodgar, a neolithic stone circle and henge monument, with the Loch of Harray in the background.
The spiritual Ring of Brodgar, a neolithic stone circle and henge monument, with the Loch of Harray in the background. Credit: CC.

Orkney is a spellbinding archipelago of 70 islands in far northern Scotland. Among its coastal cliffs and moorland habitats are magical Neolithic sites that hint at the rituals of those ancient people. One of these is the spiritual Ring of Brodgar.

The ring is an ancient stone circle 342 feet across with 27 standing stones that still remain. Built between 2500 BC and 2000 BC, it sits harmoniously between the brackish waters of Harray Loch and Stennes Loch.

The ring is unique because it’s one of a few ancient sites, along with Avebury and Stonehenge that combine a henge with a stone circle. Henges are earthen banks that were built in the Neolithic period. They have a circular or oval formation, and surround a large flat area that was used for rituals.

Archeologists believe that the circle once contained 60 standing stones, and recent excavations have uncovered buildings nearby also used for rituals. An interesting find is a large stone wall over 300 feet in length and 20 feet wide. Researchers believe that the wall marked a large ritual area at the site.

The Ring of Brodgar poses a picture-book view against the backdrop of the Lochs. Visitors would easily think that it was the ideal location for ritual and spiritual practices. But the truth is that when the the ring was created, the area was only a wet and marshy bog. It’s more evidence of how climate change affects the natural world around us. The Loch of Stennes didn’t exist until 1000 years later due to rising ocean waters.

Local Expansion of the Spiritual Ring of Brodgar

Woodcut from 1823 showing the spiritual Ring of Brodgar area.
Woodcut from 1823 showing the Ring of Brodgar area. Credit: CC.

Researchers believe that the area at the ring encompassed a much larger ritual site. One mile from the ring is the Stones of Stenness. Another nearby ring is named the Ring Booken. Also nearby is the Comet Stone, a lone monolith visible from the Brodgar ring.

Today there are plenty of ceremonial monuments in the area to keep you busy in the Orkney Isles. Imagine walking along the mesmerizing landscapes and investigating the ancient sites nestled among the cliffs and lochs. Just the idea of it takes me back to those Neolithic days of the spiritual Ring of Brodgar.

Russell Suereth
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Russell Suereth

Russell is the founder and publisher of Spiritual Fizz, a news magazine that focuses on the connection of the spiritual and physical worlds. He is also an award-winning artist who creates spiritual new age music that elevates the sense of spirituality in his listeners.

You can reach Russell through Facebook or Twitter, or via email at russell@spiritualfizz.com.
Russell Suereth
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