Stenness, Loch of

Stenness, Loch of stĕnĕsˈ, Orcadian stānĭsˈ [key], lake on Mainland island, in the Orkneys, off N Scotland. A headland between Harray and Stenness lochs holds the Standings Stones of Stenness, a ring of flat slabs surrounded by a ditch and bank (henge); it dates from before c.2500 b.c. There would have had 12 stones if the complex had been finished (research suggests only 10 may have been erected); four remain standing. The headland anciently formed an isthmus with the peninsula across the channel that connects the lochs, and the area has many Neolithic archaeological sites. Among those near the Stones of Stenness are the Neolithic settlement known as Barnhouse Village (the site of the area's earliest known structures, c.3400–3100 b.c.) and the chambered cairn at Maeshowe. On the peninsula, surrounded by a ditch, is the larger Ring of Brodgar (or Brogar), which may have had some 60 stones, 36 of which remain in some form, with 27 standing (some were reerected in 1908). It was surrounded by a ditch. On the narrow finger of the peninsula, between the Stones and Ring, is the recently discovered Ness of Brodgar, a unique Neolithic complex of massive stone structures dating to c.3300–3200 b.c. There are additional standing stones, mounds, cairns, and other sites in the area.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Archaeology: General