Saints Home Stones

Each month, this website features two journeys to take to explore the Saints and Stones of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. This month features a one-day visit to several of the Orkney Ancient Settlements, and a two-day visit to the Orkney St. Magnus Sites.

Books: Orcadia: Land, Sea and Stone in Neolithic Orkney by Mark Edmonds. The Orcadian archipelago is a museum of archaeological wonders. Its largest island, Mainland, is home to some of the oldest and best-preserved Neolithic sites in Europe, the most famous of which are the passage grave of Maeshowe, the megaliths of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar and the village of Skara Brae. Following a broadly chronological narrative, and highlighting different lines of evidence as they unfold, Mark Edmonds traces the development of the Orcadian Neolithic from its beginnings in the early fourth millennium BC through to the end of the period nearly two thousand years later.

Publications: Orkney Islander. Orkney has been named the "best place to live in the UK" for the past eight years. This publication, produced by The Orcadian newspaper in Orkney's main town, Kirkwall, is a wealth of information on the archipelago's history, archaeology, and wildlife, as well as individual capsules of the main islands. As it is supported by advertisements, the publication gives the reader a feel for various skills and occupations of its residents. The archeology section (pp.58ff) covers the main digs currently on Orkney.

Websites and Blogs: A wealth of Orkney information may be found on Orkneyjar: The Heritage of the Orkney Islands, a privately-run, non-profit website, created and maintained by Orcadian Sigurd Towrie. Begun in 1997 to provide a platform to publish the numerous articles on Orcadian history and heritage that Towrie had written over the years, it is highly recommended.

Podcasts: The podcast recommended for June 2021, Neil Oliver's Love Letter to the British Isles, turns the British Isles upside down! Travelling to Orkney, off the northeast tip of Scotland, he uncovers ancient burial tombs and ceremonial halls, and gives us a glimpse of an influential powerhouse long hidden by time. As he tells the story of the profound changes this once formidable center of influence has undergone, he unravels the lessons history tells us and the pointers it gives to what may lay ahead in the future in Hidden Power: The Ness of Brodgar, Orkney.

Organizations: University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute is a world-class teaching and research organization dedicated to advancing our understanding of the historic environment through the creation, interpretation, and dissemination of archaeological knowledge. Its website, Archaeology Orkney, periodically issues information on ongoing published research in Orkney. In addition, the Institute has a blog that you can subscribe to.

Addendum: The reader is encouraged to once again visit a great Orkney resource that was highlighted on our March 2021 Homepage: Orkney Archaeological Society (OAS). The OAS has recently issued its annual publication for this year, the Orkney Archaeological Review 2021.

Videos: Orkney archaeologist Martin Carruthers of the University of the Highlands and Islands gave an online talk in April sponsored by the Orkney Archaeological Society about The Cairns, the dig he directs on South Ronaldsay. Titled The Life and Times of The Cairns: A Thousand Years of Living at a Broch Settlement, it is available on the Orkney Archaeological Society YouTube website.

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Suggestions, comments, and questions are always welcome.