The Orkney Islands belong to a Scottish archipelago uniquely rich in Neolithic sites. The “Heart of Neolithic Orkney” is a group of megalithic monuments on Mainland Island consisting of Maeshowe, a chambered cairn, the Standing Stones of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar (both henge-type monuments), and Skara Brae, one of the best preserved Neolithic villages.
The Ring of Brodgar is among the northernmost examples of henges in Britain, comparable with Avebury and Stonehenge among the greatest.
Additionally, a recent archaeological site called Ness of Brodgar has been excavated between the Rings of Brodgar and Stenness, and it has provided evidence of housing, decorated stone slabs, a massive stone wall with foundations, and a large building dubbed as “the cathedral.”
The high concentration of Neolithic sites at this location of this northern island is quite remarkable. The people who built the huge chamber of Maes Howe and lived in the houses like those of Skara Brae (they even had sewers in the 3rd millennium BC), surrounded by such extraordinary ritual landscape, were coetaneous with those who built Avebury, Carnac, the early phase of Stonehenge, and Newgrange (described in a coming post).
This coincidence in time, and the geodesic fact that Orkney is the northernmost land on the same meridian than Carnac (ca. 3.2º W), may suggest a connection among these megalithic complexes.
The hypothesis of MacKie proposing the existence of a theocratic élite with capacity of movement over large territories in Neolithic Britain, radiating from Orkney in the north, would fit within a scheme in which these islands were chosen by the Megalith Builders to build the headquarters of their priests.
But, why would they build it in such remote northern archipelago? Find the answer in the book.