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  The Ring of Brodgar, Stenness

The significance of the landscape

Bronze Age Barrows

An area to the south of the Ring of Brodgar contains at least nine barrows, of varying size and condition.

The largest and most obvious of these are the three Bronze Age barrows found just outside the ring's ditch.

Approaching the stone circle from the south-east, they are clearly visible, along with the flattened top of the South Knowe, on the crest of a ridge of land to the left of the ring.

A number of these barrows were "excavated" in the past, but what was found in them, if anything, was not recorded.

Lunar alignments?

Among the astronomical alignments suggested by Professor Alexander Thom relating to Brodgar, was that the three barrows pictured above were aligned to the southern rise of the moon, at the minor standstill.

At Brodgar, Thom was of the opinion that the outlying mounds were astronomically significant, and perhaps more important than the standing stones themselves.

But Professor Thom's theory is not universally accepted among academics.

Geographical alignments or mere coincidence?

An intriguing element relating to the barrows surrounding the Ring of Brodgar is an apparent, although perhaps entirely coincidental, relationship with the surrounding landscape.

The three barrows to the south of Brodgar, for example, bear a remarkable resemblance, positionwise, to the tops of the ridge of hills running northwards from Stromness towards Yesnaby.

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