Voice of the Past

30 March 2012


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Copyright © Tim Prevett, www.historyandmystery.co.ukCopyright © Tim Prevett, www.historyandmystery.co.uk

 

 

When it comes to very ancient places in Britain, most will be aware of Stonehenge. Websites like The Megalithic Portal demonstrate that there are thousands of prehistoric sites in the British Isles. Tombs, stone circles, individual standing stones and more. I’d like to highlight two of these places which are on the Orkney Islands off the north east coast of Scotland.

The first is a henge and stone circle, The Ring of Brodgar. The site is on a raised area of land on an isthmus with the Loch of Harray and Loch of Stenness either side. It is also at the centre of a vast natural amphitheatre defined by mountains and water. It is these characteristic which makes the place very prone to being windy, and is the environment which supports a wide range of bird species.

Ring of Brodgar. Copyright © Tim Prevett

Copyright © Tim Prevett

Sitting in the stone circle, back to the stone, sun on the face, you hear the wind and the birds, particularly the curlew and skylark (see below). The sounds of those birds anywhere else can transport me back to “The Neolithic Heart of Orkney.”

Orkney has many neolithic tombs, one of the most engaging is The Tomb of the Eagles. Taking in the talk in visitor centre is must, before heading to the tomb. The tomb can be crawled into (or on a trolley on your back!), with standing space within. Spending time in here, in the dark, it can be so silent.

Entrance to the Tomb of Eagles. Copyright © Tim Prevett.

Interior chamber of the Tomb of Eagles. Copyright © Tim Prevett.

Seemingly more than just an absence of noise. It penetrates deep within, and is the sound which the tomb had existed in for the five thousands years before it was discovered in the 1950s. Very profound, very inspiring.

“Scratch Orkney and it bleeds archaeology” is a phrase one will hear. Visit the ancient sites with senses engaged, the voice of the past and the accompanying sounds will stay with you a long time.

 

Post by Tim Prevett, History & Mystery Tours, www.historyandmystery.co.uk

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