The Stones of Stenness are the remains of an elliptical stone circle, dating from at least 3100BC, and measuring approximately 30 metres in diameter. The circle originally contained 12 standing stones. Excavations during the 1970s suggest that two of these may never have been erected, leaving the circle unfinished. Of those original stones, only four now remain. Of these survivors, the tallest stone rises to a height of over 5 metres.
The Stones of Stenness sit on a levelled platform of earth. Originally, this was surrounded by a rock-cut ditch measuring approximately 4 metres across and 2.3 metres deep. It was further enclosed by an earth bank, with a diameter of approximately 44 metres. A single entrance faced Harray Loch. Little of visible trace of either ditch or bank survives, but there existence makes The Stones of Stenness one of the earliest henge monuments in Britain.
At the centre of the monument, there lies a hearth constructed from four large stone slabs. Within it,excavations revealed traces of cremated bone, charcoal and broken pottery. This is thought to be a later addition, although still within the Neolithic period, and possibly transferred from the nearby Barnhouse Settlement.
The Stones of Stenness are visually stunning - tall, slender fingers of rock that contrast vividly against the windswept and bleak backdrop of Orkney. The rapidly changing weather provides suitably dramatic and dynamic skies, resulting in constantly shifting cloud and light. This would all be magnificent enough it its own right, but with The Ring of Brodgar a mere stone's throw away, and sitting as it does within the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site, this monument is part of a wider landscape that is truly unparalleled anywhere else in Britain.