significance of the landscape
Although there are several
visible sites, a comprehensive geophysics scanning project on the entire Ness
o' Brodgar revealed that the entire peninsula is covered in anomalies.
indicate that the area was once the site of considerable human activity.
But these scans have also shown that the area immediately surrounding the Ring o' Brodgar
seems to have been regarded "differently" by those who lived on the Ness.
The scans revealed considerable activity from the Standing Stones o' Stenness right up to current Brodgar Farm. At this point, however, from a landscape rife
with anomalies, there comes an almost clinically-defined line where activity
ceases. A distinct cut off-point that perhaps marks an invisible boundary the
area's inhabitants did not want to cross.
Does this mark
the start of a symbolic shift in the perception of the landscape?
Or is there
a more mundane reason? A field or territorial boundary perhaps?
same pattern is repeated to the north of the ring, with a cut-off point that seems to demarcate the ritual area around the stone circle. Here, the boundary seems to be marked by an earthen bank that runs
across the Ness.
Dyke o' Sean
The Dyke o' Sean (pronounced "see-ahn")
is a huge earthwork that crosses the Ness o' Brodgar from east to west.
seven metres wide in parts, and up to a metre high, the man-made earthwork snakes
across the landscape from the Stenness loch to the Harray loch.
These days, the Dyke o' Sean marks the boundary between the parishes of Stenness and Sandwick but its age has
never been determined. But in light of the new geophysics
it seems possible that the Dyke o' Sean is contemporary with the Brodgar ring,
perhaps marking an outer boundary on the northern edge of the Brodgar henge complex.
A tantalising reference to a "dilapidated dyke"
to the south of the ring, on a mid-19th century map of the Ness, could indicate
a similar earthwork.
So within these boundaries, the
land around the Ring o' Brodgar seems to have been maintained as a definite "non
domestic" area - a space set apart from "everyday" life and perhaps
connected with the ritual or religious practices centred on the stone circle.
Or was the area around the ring perceived as being distinctly different and as