the Standing Stones
In 1814, shortly after the Standing Stones were visited by Sir Walter Scott, disaster struck. A tenant farmer, tired of ploughing around the stones, began to demolish them.
After destroying the Odin Stone, the farmer, Captain W. Mackay, himself not a native Orcadian, turned his attentions to the Stones o’ Stenness. Before he was stopped, he had toppled one stone (Stone Five) and destroyed another (Stone Six).
The miscreant's actions raised such a public outcry that not only was legal action started, but attempts were made to burn down his house. The court action was dropped after Mackay promised to “desist from his operations”.
In 1906, the Stones o' Stenness were taken into state care and the toppled stone re-erected. While this was being carried out, another, smaller, stone was found under the turf and raised using an existing socket-hole.
At the time, doubts were raised as to whether this small stone (pictured right, alongside the remains of the "dolmen") belonged in a circle that contained such huge megaliths.
'...within the circle was unearthed a large, ill-shaped stone, lying in a
position, with its end in proximity to the next socket, as if it were the next monolith of the circle. Its shape and uncomeliness make one doubt what the position suggests'
'The ill-shaped stone .. . with one end pointing to
a socket, where no doubt an upright had at one time been, has been erected in the place indicated.
Its end, we understand, suited the socket. We have doubts as to whether it is a genuine monolith.
It looks such a dwarf amid these huge monoliths... . Mr Cursiter considers it is the broken part of the original stone, which is a likely explanation'
However, despite the protests, it remains possible that the stone's smaller size had some significance to the ring's builders - particularly considering its position by the entrance causeway.