Andrew James Mulhall, B.A.
Academic writing AJ13001
29 December 2010
When telling somebody that I spend holidays on the Orkney, they always ask, what it is. Apposite answer is that Orkneys are islands north of Scotland and there are monuments similar to the Stonehenge, this is clear, because almost everyone knows Stonehenge. This was an input for writing this essay, because it was disappointing, that many people know Stonehenge but not the Orkney. Therefore, this essay is focused on describing what is interesting about Orkney heritage and why is it more important in comparison with Stonehenge. Finally, there are suggested reasons from past of the islands for overlooking Orkney. The essay is mostly based on readings from professional books about both historic sights. This essay was written to point out that there are places as the Orkney Islands, which may be much more interesting than other more popular places.
Orkney Islands vs. Stonehenge
Stonehenge is one of the most visited places in Great Britain because it is very imposing and important historical monument. However, there is one place in United Kingdom, which is not half as visited as Stonehenge, although it is more important and more impressive and that is Heritage of Orkney Islands.
Orkney is a group of 70 islands north of Scotland, from which the biggest one, Mainland, is the place where most of the Neolithic sights of the historical interests are situated. Firstly there are two stone circles: Ring of Brodgar, which is one of the largest Neolithic henges, measuring one hundred and thirty meters in diameter and then Standing Stones of Stenness, which are almost five hundred years older than four thousand years old Stonehenge. Based on this, some archaeologists suppose that these Orkney stone circles, may have served as a model for much more popular Stonehenge (Foster). In addition to that, close to the stone circles a stone village has been found called Skara Brae, which according to the archaeological research was already inhabited 3100 BC. Not to treat Stonehenge unjustly, there is also one old village nearby, but only foundations remained of it. Skara Brae, on the other hand, is dated to be built in Neolithic, the New Stone Age, and even nowadays, there is only one small forest on the Orkney Islands, which means that all the buildings and tools in Skara Brae had to be made from stone or bones. Thanks to this fact, everything is very well preserved and it seems, as the village was built yesterday. All these big architectural treasures are supplemented with lots of lone standing stones and other monuments, such as Maeshowe, the dark chambered tomb, which is lighted up by the sun rays only in the time of solstice. Nevertheless, although this small island can offer you real unforgettable trip into the past, it is visited only by 120 000 visitors per year (Orkney Islands Council), which is a derisory number against the Stonehenge’s 800 000 visitors (Davies).
Reasons for the overlooking of the Orkney heritage may be found in the history of islands. First, till the 16. Century the Orkney Islands were under the Norwegian rule, so the British were not much interested in them and thus the islands did not have to be well-known in United Kingdom. Then, when the Norwegian relinquished Orkney, the islands fell to the Scotland, the everlasting enemy of England, and that might have been the reason, for English to propagate Stonehenge more than another place in Scotland. Besides, in the time of the World Wars there was also built a very important Royal Navy base in Orkney’s Scapa Flow, thus Britons maybe also did not want to popularize the military place. Moreover, the main interest in the Orkney did not broke out until the beginning of the twentieth century, when the Skara Brae was discovered, only then became the Orkney Islands more interesting for both archaeologists and tourists. Ultimately, small popularity may be also...
Bibliography: Ancient Wisdom. Alex Whitaker. 2005. 26 November 2010.
< http://www.ancient-wisdom.co.uk >.
Foster, S. M. 2006. Maeshowe and the Heart of Neolithic Orkney. Edinburgh: Historic Scotland.
Orkney Islands Council Local Government. Orkney Islands Council, 2010. 26 November 2010.
< http://www.orkney.gov.uk/nqcontent.cfm?a_id=2583 >.
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