When I was eight years old, we took a family trip to the Orkney islands off the north coast of Scotland. I don’t know why we went there particularly, but it was amazing. I almost don’t want to go back because it might break the spell the place has cast over my life.

While were were there, with no kind of tourist fanfare I was allowed to handle skulls that were thousands of years old, crawl into tombs, and generally really experience history. I doubt they have such a cavalier approach to artefacts these days…

Neolithic stone circle

If you happen to imagine that there’s not much left to discover of Britain’s stone age, or that its relics consist of hard-to-love postholes and scraps of bones, then you need to find your way to Orkney, that scatter of islands off Scotland’s north-east coast. On the archipelago’s Mainland, out towards the windswept west coast with its wave-battered cliffs, you will come to the Ness of Brodgar, an isthmus separating a pair of sparkling lochs, one of saltwater and one of freshwater. Just before the way narrows you’ll see the Stones of Stenness rising up before you. This ancient stone circle’s monoliths were once more numerous, but they remain elegant and imposing. Like a gateway into a liminal world of theatricality and magic, they lead the eye to another, even larger neolithic monument beyond the isthmus, elevated in the landscape as if on a stage. This is the Ring of Brodgar, its sharply individuated stones like giant dancers arrested mid-step – as local legend, indeed, has it.
Source: ‘Every year it astounds us’: the Orkney dig uncovering Britain’s stone age culture | The Guardian