Posts tagged ‘Stenness’

The Ring of Brodgar

The Ring of Brodgar is another of the remarkable monuments that make up the “Heart of Neolithic OrkneyUNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a fantastic stone circle over 100 metres in diameter that sits on a thin strip of raised ground between the Lochs of Stenness and Harray. It is contemporary with Maeshowe, circa 2600 BC, that I posted about here. Originally it would have comprised 60 standing stones, of which 27 now remain upright, surrounded by a 10m wide and 3m deep ditch. It is a remarkable site…..

I got a little carried away taking shots on our two visits to the Ring of Brodgar, the ten above are only a sample of the many images that I captured. However I make no apologies for this (well except to the wife of course…;0)…) because standing stones are incredibly photogenic and provide some fabulous landscape opportunities. Also the light on our second visit was really good…..I could have easily stayed longer.

Shots 7, 8 & 10 are all five exposure HDR shots processed in Nik’s HDR Efex Pro2 software, the others are all straight single exposure images. Because I took so many photos I decided to experiment in post processing with a few of them. I’m particularly pleased with the high contrast mono conversion for shot seven – this treatment results in a grainy, moody image that I think enhances the already dramatic, windswept and mysterious landscape in which the Ring of Brodgar sits.

Orkney has definitely left a lasting impression on Liz and I, so much so in fact that we have just booked to go back for another week at Christmas. That’s the first time in 15/16 years of holidays together that we will have returned to a destination…..normally our attitude is that we really enjoyed that vacation, but there are so many other places to go and see in the world that we probably won’t go back again. Who would have thought that a small collection of islands off the North coast of Scotland would have this effect!! 

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)


For my first post since returning from a fantastic two-week holiday to the wonderful Orkney Isles just off Scotland’s north coast, I’ve decided to share with you an image of Maeshowe, a fantastic Neolithic chambered tomb which dates from about 2700BC. I think this image encapsulates the essence of Orkney – big skies, wide open landscapes and stunning cultural heritage.

Maeshowe, which is run by Historic Scotland, is widely regarded as one of the finest examples of its type anywhere in Europe. It forms part of the “Heart of Neolithic Orkney” a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site that also includes the Ness of Brodgar, the Ring of Brodgar, the Stones of Stenness and Skara Brae. The fact that all these occur in Orkney’s West Mainland makes it one of the highest concentrations of Neolithic sites anywhere in the world. The remarkable thing is that the UNESCO designation only covers a handful of the dozens of known pre-historic sites that are dotted through-out the rest of the Orkney Isles. If that wasn’t enough, according to the experts, there are no doubt more sites as yet undiscovered.

Unfortunately, although we were able to go inside the tomb on a guided tour, we weren’t allowed to take any shots of the interior. I’d love to return to Maeshowe for the Winter Solstice, because the tomb is aligned so that those fortunate enough to be standing in the main chamber on the shortest day of the year, get to see the light of the setting sun slowly creep up the narrow, low passageway and eventually fill the inner chamber with a magical golden glow. For those not so fortunate Historic Scotland do live-stream the event each winter at


The above shot is a HDR image made up of five bracketed exposures and then processed in Nik’s HDR Efex Pro2.

I took over 800 images in the two weeks we were up on Orkney and I’m just starting to work my way through them now to decide which I’m going to process and publish. Clearly this is going to take me a little while and I can already see that this trip will require a number of posts over the next few weeks to do it justice.

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)

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