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Ring of Brodgar Stone Circle

Orkney, Scotland

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Ring of Brodgar (or Brogar) (pronounced broa(d)yeurA) 60 stone ring of which 27 are still standing.

"A part of the World Heritage Site - Heart of Neolithic Orkney"

This is a Neolithic henge and stone circle in Orkney, Scotland. The ring of stones stands on a small strip of land between the Lochs of Stenness and Harray. The centre of the circle has never been excavated by archaeologists and scientifically dated, but by comparison with Stonehenge and many other ancient sites in the British Isles and Europe, it is considered broadly contemporary, constructed around 2500 BC.

The true circle is 104 metres in diameter, and the third largest in the United Kingdom. It is beaten only by the outer ring of stones at Avebury,  Wiltshire and the Greater Ring at Stanton Drew, Somerset. The Brodgar ring is said to be exactly the same size as Avebury's two inner rings, but the meaning of this is not clear.

The henge originally comprised of 60 stones, of which only 27 remained standing at the end of the 20th century. The stones are set within a circular ditch up to 3 metres deep and 9 metres wide that was carved out of the solid bedrock by the ancient residents. It has two entrance causeways, one to the north-west and the other to the south-east.

The stones vary in height from 2.1 metres (7 feet) to a maximum of 4.7 metres (15ft 3in).

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In 1792, the ring contained 18 standing stones, with eight lying prone. But by 1815, an account shows that two more stones had been toppled, leaving only 16 erect. Then, in 1854, in what was the first detailed account of the stone circle, there were only 13 erect stones, ten complete, but fallen, stones and fragments of 13 more. The Ring o' Brodgar was taken into state care in 1906 and two years later, most of the fallen stones were placed back in what was thought to be their original sockets. Since then two stones have suffered lightning strikes, leaving 27 standing today.

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The stone circle is practically in the centre of a massive natural "cauldron" formed by the hills of the surrounding landscape, accentuated by the water of the lochs. The site is, therefore, bordered by hill, water and sky.

The surrounding area is full of other standing stones and round piles of earth a top prehistoric tombs, making a significant historic landscape. Although its exact purpose is not known, the proximity of the Standing Stones of Stenness and its Maeshowe tomb make the Ring of Brodgar a site of major importance.

Excavations by Orkney College at the nearby Ness of Brodgar site between the Ring and the Stones of Stenness have uncovered several buildings, both ritual and domestic and the works suggest there are likely to be more in the vicinity. Pottery, bones, stone tools and a polished stone mace head have also been discovered. Perhaps the most important find is the remains of a large stone wall which may have been 100 metres long and up to 6 metres high. It appears to traverse the entire peninsula the site is on and may have been a symbolic barrier between the ritual landscape of the Ring and the mundane world around it.

1 mile NNE of Stenness Stone Circle

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Further information Grid



Ring of Brodgar Stone Circle, Nr Finstown, Orkney, Scotland

Ceremonial County: Orkney Isles

Grid Reference:


Map Link:


Aerial photo:  



Best Times to Visit:






Other useful websites:


Nearby Locations:  
Other Relevant pages:

Our section on stone circles

The discussion on the purpose of stone circles

World Heritage Sites     

World Heritage Sites - Further Information

World Heritage Sites in the UK



Planning Grid


Ring of Brodgar Stone Circle, Nr Finstown, Orkney, Scotland

Grid Reference:


Getting there:

Just off the B9055, Left,  just north of Brodger, about a mile NNE of the Staines of Stenness




Parking place/layby, by side of road



Things To Do, See and Photograph:


What to take:


Nature highlights:

Located in a wildlife area known for 'tit' birds.


Nr Finstown







Opening times:

Open all the time



Photo Restrictions:


Other Restrictions: None
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Special Needs Facilities:  
Children Facilities:  
Dogs Allowed:  

Please let us know any other information that we can add to the Further information and Planning Grids or page and any errors that you discover. Before making a long trip to any location it is always wise to double check the current information, websites like magazines may be correct at the time the information is written, but things change and it is of course impossible to double check all entries on a regular basis. If you have any good photographs that you feel would improve the illustration of this page then please let us have copies. In referring to this page it is helpful if you quote both the Page Ref and Topic or Section references from the Grid below. To print the planning grid select it then right click and print the selected area.

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By: Keith Park Section: Stone Circles Section Key:
Page Ref: brodgar_stone_circle Topic: Stone Circles Last Updated: 07/2009


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