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Exploring The Mysteries Of Scotland

Updated: Apr 21

Bonny Scotland received the affectionate name for a reason. This stunning nation is beautiful, from its breathtaking mountains, valleys, and glens to its beaches, castles, and quirky, colourful streets. Steeped in legendary tales and fascinating history, delving deep into the mysteries of Scotland's magical past is a must.


Scotland occupies almost one-third of the total land area of the United Kingdom and has been divided into three regions: the highlands, which is a mountainous region; the lowlands, a flatter plain located across the centre; and the southern uplands, a hilly region situated on the southern border, as well as an astonishing 800 offshore islands, most of which are found in Shetland, Orkney, and the Hebrides.


There is much speculation about Scotland's origins. During 16,000 BC, Scotland was covered by a thick sheet of ice, estimated to be a mile thick, according to Freddy Silva, a leading researcher of ancient civilisations. Humans and various intriguing species began inhabiting the land as the climate started warming. However, the Younger Dryas, a devastating flood that occurred in 9703 BC, caused extensive sand deposition, resulting in the loss of the land and its residents once more.


The recorded history of Scotland traces back to the arrival of the Romans and Abbots between 79 and 300 AD. The written works of figures such as Columba, an Irish abbot and missionary, offer a fascinating glimpse into this period. Recent exploration of Scotland's origins has uncovered evidence linking its ancient past to the great civilisations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Armenia. The megalithic structures that still stand in Scotland today are undeniable proof of the country's ancient past.


Pictures: Standing Stones of Stenness, Skara Brae Neolithic Village, Ring of Brodgar


With so many beautiful locations to write about, let's begin our journey to the enchanting Orkney Islands.


The Orkney Islands are located in northern Scotland and are believed to have been inhabited for 8,500 years. Researchers believe some of the earliest inhabitants were those from Babel in Mesopotamia. Having dealt with floods and famine in their homeland, immigration seemed the only option, and with the Orkney Islands enjoying a warmer and more workable climate at the time, it no doubt seemed like the perfect location to relocate to.


The stunning islands contain some of Europe's oldest and best-preserved neolithic sites, such as Maeshowe, The Stones of Stenness, The Ring of Brodgar, and Skara Brae. The people who built these sites were believed to be the Islands' first inhabitants, possessing incredible mathematics, construction, and astronomy skills like no other found today. Their ability to align sacred sites with the sun, moon, and stars is mind-boggling, leaving researchers and archaeologists with many unanswered questions.


The Three Orkney Henges


The first of the three Orkney henges is the Standing Stones of Stenness a Neolithic monument believed to be the oldest stone circle in the British Isles and predates Stonehenge by around 500 years. These colossal stone slabs, which stand close to twenty feet tall, comprised twelve stones in a circle formation. Today, four standing stones still remain at the site.

Until the winter of 1814, another stone known as the Odin Stone stood eight feet tall, three feet wide, and 150 yards north of the Standing Stones of Stenness. This unique-looking stone was slightly different from the others close by. A hole passing through its centre was likely used for a solar or lunar solstice or healing ceremony. In later years, the stone would come to represent marriage and love, with many islanders joining their hands through the hole to bind their marriage.

Stone circles are often associated with solar or lunar activity, and these stones were likely also linked to such activities. There is no conclusive evidence regarding the stone circles' purpose. Still, those who have been fortunate enough to visit the Standing Stones of Stenness have all described a clear energy vortex radiating from its centre.

The ancient islanders clearly had a deep connection to this beautiful setting, whether as a portal, a gathering site during solstices, or a healing circle; whatever the reason for this build, it is evident it held significant meaning to them.


Local folklore describes the second of the third henges, the Ring Of Brodgar, as a place where giants danced to music, turning to stone after failing to return home before sunset. This magnificent site is almost a perfect circle, measuring a staggering four hundred feet in diameter, and was likely used to align with solar and lunar cycles and eclipses (although ongoing debates exist regarding this). Believed to have been erected between 3000 and 2000 BC, The Ring of Brodgar consisted of between forty and sixty stones, with fifty-six the likely number, matching that of Stonehenge. Twenty-seven remain set within a deep moat carved out by the ancient residents. The moat was believed to fill with water from a natural spring in the centre, creating a mirror effect. Another clever way to measure the sky. This site's scale is so grand that Stonehenge is believed to fit inside the circle.

Just outside the stone circle, about 150 yards away, sits the Comet Stone, affectionately known as the fiddler, who was said to have played the music to the giants before they all turned to stone. Next to the Comet stone lays two stone stumps which may have once stood tall and grand like those surrounding them. Ground scans suggest a building of some kind may reside underneath; however, without proper excavation, what lies beneath will remain a mystery. According to a theory proposed by the late Professor Alexander Thom in the 1970s, the Comet Stone was part of a megalithic landscape used as an astronomical observatory that marked the rising point of the moon at minor lunar standstills. As for the two stone stumps, Thom suggested they aligned to the rising midsummer sun.


The third is the Ring Of Bookan, about one mile from the Ring of Brodgar, likely dating 4500 BC. Today, all that's left to observe is a grass mound with various broken stones. However, when viewing it either in person or via pictures, it is clear that it would have played a significant part in the ancient islanders' lives. The various strewn broken stones suggest it may have been a stone circle at some point.

Despite the limited knowledge about this location, researchers strongly believe that it was an earlier chambered passaged monument, similar to the nearby Maeshowe.

Amazing research by the talented Freddy Silva recently revealed an alignment with the Stones of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar, and the Ring of Bookan to the three stars of Orion's belt, much like the Great Pyramids in Giza. What an extraordinary discovery.

Well done, Freddy.


Maeshowe, Orkney Islands


One of Orkney's largest tombs, Maeshowe, can be found on the mainland. Built around 2800BC, the grassy mound, reaching 115 feet in diameter and 24 feet in height, hides a complex of passages and chambers carefully constructed inside. According to Freddy Silva, the rear section resembles the Queen's chamber at the Great Pyramid of Giza, including its size and height.

Like Newgrange in Ireland, it aligns with the winter solstice. Orion's belt was also believed to be seen descending into the Maeshowe Bowl during both the winter and spring solstice. The 36-foot entrance passage leads to the central almost square chamber, which measures 15 feet on each side. It perfectly aligns with the Barnhouse Stone located 700 meters away, allowing the rays of the setting sun to beam onto the chamber's back wall.

During the winter of 1153, a group of Vikings found shelter from a snowstorm, leaving what is now known as the Viking graffiti carved into the inner walls of Maeshowe. Thirty inscriptions were found, including this one seemingly from a woman—Ingebjork the fair widow—a woman who has walked stooping in here, a very showy person, signed Erlingr, as well as Jeruselum travellers crusaders broke Ork mound. These wonderful finds have since resulted in Maeshowe being known as having the most extensive collection of runes in Europe.

The use of many of these chambers remains a mystery; however, with chambers such as Maeshowe and Newgrange representing a pregnant womb, many believe they were used for fertility ceremonies rather than burial chambers.


Skara Brae, Orkney Islands


Located on the west coast of the mainland lies the stone-built neolithic village, Skara Brae, the Scottish Pompeii. Occupied from roughly 3180 BC to 2500 BC, the small village was later discovered during a freak weather event during the storm of 1850. Once the storm had cleared, the islanders found the outline of a village consisting of several roofed houses.

An interesting theory by British archaeologist Euan Mackie suggests the Skara Brae residents may have been a group of astronomer-priests responsible for maintaining the surrounding sacred sites. Radiocarbon results from various excavations specify that the occupation of Skara Brae began around 3180 BC and continued for another six hundred years. Due to the dramatic changes in climate conditions, it is highly likely that the settlers either sadly perished or had no choice but to abandon the island.


Dwarfie Stane, Hoy, Orkney Islands


The Dwarfie Stane is a sandstone megalithic chambered tomb on the Island of Hoy and is believed to date from around 3000 BC. It lies in a valley between the highest point in the Orkney Isles, Wards Hill. This mysterious structure, 28 feet long and 13 feet wide, has puzzled many researchers and history enthusiasts for decades. Although the tomb's exterior appears quite large, the interior is not as spacious as expected.

The entrance to the tomb measures one meter in size and has been cut into the western side of the rock. The entrance passage measures 7 feet long and has two small nooks carved out on either side. The southern nook is slightly bigger than the northern one, measuring 5.6 feet by 3.3 feet. This disproves any previous tales of giants having used the tomb. Additionally, the southern side features a raised stone ledge, commonly called the "stone pillow". A large stone weighing 1.5 tons lies just in front of the entrance, which would have once been used to seal the entrance doorway.

Like many others, I have numerous questions regarding this site's purpose. Was it really used as a burial chamber? There is a lack of evidence to support this claim, as no bones or artefacts have yet been found in or around the huge stone slab. Instead, what was discovered in a cave situated behind the stone were polished egg-shaped stones, much like those found in the Neolithic village of Skara Brae. Could this astonishing find suggest that Dwarfie Stane may have been used as a fertility chamber instead? Or was it used as a dwelling for the island's high priest? Did settlers really use stone and deer antlers to carve the passage and nooks from this hard rock? And how was the stone door used? Did giants really roam the land, or were high-frequency techniques used to move the stone in and out of the doorway? It seems like the fascinating Dwarfie Stane will remain one of life's mysteries.


Pictures: Dwarfie Stane, Isle of Staffa, Praying Hands Of Mary


Warren Field, Aberdeenshire


Scotland's most astonishing ancient find to date is the oldest Mesolithic calendar monument, located in a field within the estate of Crathes Castle, Aberdeenshire. It dates back to around 8000 BCE and predates previous ancient calendars discovered by 5000 years. In 1976, an unusual crop mark was spotted overhead. However, in 2004, after a twenty-eight-year wait, excavation at this site finally began. The monument consists of twelve pits of various sizes in a 54-meter arc that faces a v-shaped dip in the horizon. The pits are believed to correlate with lunar phases and lunar months.

The twelve pits also align with the sun's rising during the midwinter solstice, which may have been used as a seasonal calendar for prehistoric communities that relied on hunting migrating animals. Further crop marks close to the Mesolithic calendar were that of a large building which has since been named the Neolithic Timber Hall.


Callanish Standing Stones, Isle of Lewis


Situated on the remote Outer Hebrides, the Callanish Standing Stones are one of the largest stone complexes in the world, dating back to 2900-2600 BC. The site's layout resembles a Celtic cross and is connected to a vital vortex ley line linked to Giza and other ancient sites in Scotland. Additionally, the stone circle's alignment with the Pleiades star system has also been recognised.

Using the stones as an astronomical temple, the ancient islanders could also use this fascinating site to track the moon's cycle and the summer solstice. According to Maria Wheatley, as the moon begins to set, it aligns with the centre of the Callanish Stone Circle, creating a sight to behold. The energies at Callanish are remarkable, particularly every 18.6 years when the moon's rising slowly glides along the landscape, awakening the surrounding mountains, known as sleeping beauty and magnifying the site's energy. With a picturesque view of the waters of Loch Roag and a backdrop of the hills of Great Bernera, it's not hard to imagine why the ancient islanders were drawn to this enchanting spot. This location seems to hold a special kind of magic that has captivated people for centuries, and it's easy to see why.


Isle Of Staffa, Inner Hebrides


The Isle of Staffa, located in the West of Scotland, is a stunning sight affectionately known as Nature's Organ Pipes due to its basaltic column structure. The island was formed from the lava of a volcanic eruption and acquired its unusual name from the Vikings, who thought it resembled their homes built from vertically placed tree logs.

Located south of the island are three caves that are believed to align with the three belt stars of Orion. Fingal's Cave is the most famous one among them, receiving its name after the 3rd-century Irish warrior giant Fionn Mac Cumhaill.

According to Celtic mythology, The Isle of Staffa and the Giants Causeway, situated in Northern Ireland, were once linked by a bridge constructed after Fionn was challenged to a fight by a Scottish giant. The bridge served as a meeting point between the two men. Another tale, and probably the one I like best, refers to surrounding islands used as stepping stones for the giants who once roamed the surrounding islands.

Today, the Isle of Staffa is a cherished place for many visitors. The island's only inhabitants are the feathered type, a colony of beautiful puffins, an added joy to the island's charm.


The Praying Hands Of Mary, Glyn Lyon, Perthshire


Finally, we come to the Praying Hands of Mary, which, to me, is the most beautiful and heartwarming of all the sites mentioned. There is little information about this site, but what I found was delightful. The Praying Hands of Mary, also known as Fionns Rock, stands upright in one of the most mysterious glens in Scotland, Glyn Lyon. Novelist Sir Walter Scott once described Glyn Lyon as Scotland's longest, loneliest and loveliest Glen. Those who have visited here would say he was absolutely right.

So how did this stunning rock formation consisting of two huge stones split in the centre resembling hands clasped in prayer come to find themselves here?

The Glen is strongly associated with Saint Adamnan, author of The Life of Columba - the biography of Saint Columba, the founding Abbot of Iona. Written between 697 and 700 AD, this book is considered a significant surviving work of its kind.

Could it be that the Christian settlement was the one that built this magnificent structure, or was it already there, a symbol of gratitude from previous settlements to Mother Earth?

Or is the split in the centre nothing to do with Christianity and the result of the giant Fionn Mac Cumhaill's travelling arrow slicing through them, as Celtic mythology states?

One thing is sure about this stunning location: it can evoke a feeling of peace and tranquillity in one's heart despite its many mysteries.


I could talk endlessly about the breathtaking discoveries Scotland has to offer. This blog post is just the tip of the iceberg. Witnessing the beauty of this land—whether through pictures or in person—is a humbling experience. Mother Nature is truly remarkable, constantly creating works of art for us to cherish and enjoy.


Scotland boasts an incredible array of beautiful sites that are just waiting to be explored. I hope that one day, you will have the opportunity to visit this magical place and experience the same enchantment felt by our ancestors.


Love & Light


X



References


The Old Stones of Scotland - Andy Burnham

Scotland's Hidden Sacred Past - Freddy Silva

Come By The Hills - Cameron Mc Neish

The Scottish Isles - Shetland, Orkney and Hebrides - Mary Jane Walker

Diving Ancient Sites - Maria Wheatley

The Stones of the Ancestors- Douglas Scott, Stuart McHardy

Life of Saint Columba Apostle of Scotland - Francis, Alice Forbes

The History of Scotland - nts.org.uk

The Significance of the Ancient Standing Stones, Villages, and Tombs on Orkney Island

Lawson L. Schroeder Philip L. Schroeder - Volume 5 -

Print reference pages 561-572 - Article 43

Ancient Origins Magazine

aaronwatson.co.uk - Acoustics at the Stones of Stenness











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