The Orkneys, part III – The Ring of Brodgar (or the Standing Stones of Stenness)

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Standing stones, in circles or not, exist in several areas in England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. They are really something to see, standing in silence through the ages. We have thoroughly enjoyed every site we have visited so far, but the Ring of Brodgar is arguably one of the better known sites after Stonehenge.

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The background was just perfect for seeing these stones. The afternoon fog was already rolling in, but we still had plenty of light.

The picture below is a close-up of the 4th rock in the second photo above. (Got all that?) You can see it is splitting in that line up. This is a better view of what’s happening. The split has already occurred with several others. Spending time in this harsh climate for hundreds of years…gonna take a toll on anything. Even rocks.

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Amazingly, we were not only allowed to walk among the stones, but we could touch them, feeling their strength, much like people used to be permitted to do at Stonehenge, back in the day.

Here are two pictures of the same stone from different angles.

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Lastly, here are three up close photos of stone surfaces. It’s interesting to see the details of the rock…and the old graffiti. You can see initials and a date, 1839. I wasn’t expecting that at all!

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Somehow, it felt safe and secure seeing these huge pillars of stone still standing through all this time. Some things really are timeless.

The Orkneys, part II – Skara Brae

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I had long wanted to visit the site of Skara Brae, not just because it’s an extremely unusual site, since most stone age villages are not so well preserved. But also because of a more personal connection: there are a number of researchers that believe the people of Skara Brae may well have eventually claimed the family name of Scarborough.

I am an absolute nut regarding genealogy. My grandmother’s family name was Scarborough. Enough said.

Skara Brae 1

Skara Brae 1

Skara Brae 2

Skara Brae 2

Skara Brae 3

Skara Brae 3

Skara Brae 4

Skara Brae 4

I was totally blown away by how well preserved a large number of rooms were, and I deeply appreciated how close we were allowed to walk up to the individual areas, and yet still prevented from causing any damage or ruins to the site, itself.

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Skara Brae 5

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Skara Brae 7

Skara Brae 7

Skara Brae 8

Skara Brae 8

It’s a harsh, harsh land with the seascape in every direction, strong, fierce, and bitter cold winds blowing even in September. It’s no surprise that the Orcadians (the people of Orkney) identify more readily with the Scandinavians than with their closer neighbors, the Scots.

The flag of Orkney

The flag of Orkney

They survive, endure, and go on, just as the people of Skara Brae did all those years ago.

The Orkneys, part I

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We have been looking forward to visiting the Orkneys since our very first trip to Scotland.

It’s a matter of balancing money, time, and the distance to drive away up to the tippy-top of the Highlands, the furthest North of the whole of mainland Great Britain: John O’Groats.

Signpost at John O'Groats

Signpost at John O’Groats

The ferry wasn’t that large, and the trek wasn’t that far.

Ferry to the Orkneys

Ferry to the Orkneys

Lobster traps on Orkney

Lobster traps on Orkney

Beach at Skara Brae

To be honest, there were two places in particular we wanted to hit: the stone age settlement of Skara Brae (uncovered unexpectedly during a storm) and the Ring of Brodgar (or the Standing Stones of Stenness.)

Well, and try the two Orkney scotches: the Highland Park, and the Scapa.

We hit it all.

Second post will cover Skara Brae, and third post will have pictures of the Ring of Brodgar.

Please Stand By….

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So.

We all get busy in our lives. Things happen we fully expected would happen. Things happen we didn’t expect to happen. And things don’t happen that we really thought would happen.

I dunno. I have no idea what happened, really. 2015 took off with a bang, and somehow I was left standing on the curb wondering where the time went. I mean, it’s July. Really? July?! My last post was in February! And I was playing catch-up even back then!

Actually, I do know what happened. At least in part. I rediscovered books. No, no seriously. That’s really what happened. I found out about Kindle Unlimited, and…my world shrunk to the size of an I-pad. Yup. That’s what happened. See, when I was a kid, I read all the time. All. The. Time. And sometimes I was reading up to four books at once. Well, not literally the same moment. I don’t have enough hands. But you know what I mean. But when I grew up, my reading fell further and further back, and eventually…I wasn’t reading at all. Not magazines. Not ketchup bottles. Nothing. So to suddenly locate a way to read on the go…life changing.

But when I’m reading…the world falls away. I don’t post blogs. I don’t tweet. I almost (almost) don’t check Facebook. (Let’s get real. Skip Facebooking? Ridiculous.) I don’t work on projects I would like to, or write anything, or even take care of stuff that seriously needs attention. So, it’s time to refocus.

At this point, I could still start churning out posts and reach my original goal of a post every four days. No, really. I could. But I don’t know if I want to. I plan to post the rest of the posts from the Scotland trip LAST FALL. Sheesh. I also plan to write a few posts of our trip to New England this summer. I really need to update some of my genealogy family posts, since our trips in 2013, 2014, and 2015 have resulted in the unearthing of some really cool stuff, along with learning the names of many more ancestors.

So, how often will I post going forward? No idea. But I’m getting back on the horse, and that’s what counts, right? Thanks for the read. Enjoy the ride.

 

Carrbridge, Scotland

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Carrbridge is one of those serendipitous moments on a trip: we had just driven through the Cairngorms, and were looking for a place to stop for the night. This was just a sweet village with an array of B&Bs and a nice pub for dinner…nothing special.

But then…we decided to take a stroll. Not a long one, either. Just down to the end of the road and back.

Turns out there’s a stream that flows through town. That was pretty. But as we walked closer, we finally saw it: this large stone bridge gently curving over the stream. Large enough to drive a horse and buggy over, anyway.

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Just one of those casual moments you’ll remember forever.

Eilean Donan Castle I

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Eilean Donan is regarded as the most romantic of Scotland’s castles, and it’s easy to agree with the sentiment.

Surrounded on four sides by water, the castle is only accessible by its stone bridge.

The views from the towers are amazing, and the inside rooms are basically unchanged from when the last owner lived there. Corridors and hidden alcoves are found on every floor.

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The bridge that leads to the castle is a solid stone bridge with set spaces for observation and contemplation.

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Took four visits to Scotland to finally get here, but it was worth the wait: Eilean Donan is definitely one of my top five favorite Scottish castles.

Eilean Donan Castle II

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These were taken from the grounds of the castle.
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