Deepdale Stone, Stromness
Although Orkney is home to
a number of well-known standing-stones, such as the Ring o' Brodgar,
it also has its fair share of lesser-known monoliths.
These stones, scattered across the
islands, are often ignored because they are inaccessible,
unnoticed, or, quite simply, don't look as impressive as their larger
The Deepdale Stone is a fine example..
Barely noticeable from the main Kirkwall to Stromness
road - unless you know when, and where, to look - the Deepdale stone
stands approximately two metres (7 feet) high. Located on private ground, it pokes out from
a crest of high ground on the western side of the current road,
directly opposite the Stenness loch.
The Deepdale megalith once had a companion, but no visible trace of this stone survives today.
second stone, which is believed to have been slightly taller than
its companion, was loosened after years of ploughing. It was removed
sometime between the 1940s and the 1970s.
Subsequent excavation located the socket hole of the lost stone, along with its surviving stump.
The two standing stones' position on the western horizon led to the theory that the Deepdale
stones may have been aligned, or were outliers, to the Ring o' Brodgar,
and connected to the setting sun in much the same way as the Barnhouse
stone is to the chamber of Maeshowe. However, the distance from Brodgar means that
the Deepdale stones would have been very difficult to see with the
naked eye. As such it is hard to see how they could have been connected
with whatever ceremonies took place within the stone circle.
Instead, the two megaliths may have had some connection with the nearby Unstan Cairn. The surviving stone looks down on the headland on which the cairn stands, its face turned towards the structure.
It is also possible that the Deepdale Stones were related to the nearby Neolithic site at Howe - now destroyed. Again, however, this is debatable. In the Neolithic only one of the pair would have been visible, peeking over the crest of the hill facing Howe.