Apart from the two henges, there are several other interesting monoliths in the area. Most notable of these are the Watchstone, situated at the south end of the Brodgar Bridge overlooking the Loch of Stenness and the Hoy Hills, the now non-existent Odein Stone, and the Barnhouse Stone which lies in a field to the south.
At midwinter the sun sets between the Ward Hill and Cuilags on Hoy, such that it is easily possible to judge the day of winter solstice, when the sun sets at its most southerly. It could also in principle define the autumn equinox as there is a long sight line across the loch to the Sandwick hills, Stenness Loch is open to the sea at the Brig O'Waithe, and as a result its brackish waters suppost salt water fish and even common seals as well as trout.
The Watchstone is the biggest of all the monoliths in this area, and while several other isolated stones may well have esisted in the past, its position, imposing size and the view from it all suggest that it had an important role to play in the Neolithic.
the Winter Solstice when viewed from the Watchstone, the sun disappears
behind the top of the Ward Hill of Hoy for several minutes, and then
reappears momentarily at the bottom of the north flank of the hill.
The actual date of furthest declination to the south is clearly apparent
from this position.
after Winter Solstice from the Watchstone, the glow of the sun shows
clearly in the notch in the Hoy Hills. The so-called "flashing" phenomenon
occurs here also but on different days than when observed from Maeshowe.
There is also a similar event earlier and later in the year, when the
sun "flashes" behind Cuilags and the Kame of Hoy. So far, due
to the lack of suitable sunsets in November and February this has not
been recorded on film. However it will be in future!
The Odinstone was destroyed by a farmer in 1814. He also wanted to desecrate the Standing Stones of Stenness, but luckily he was restrained before he did so. In fact part of the stone survived until recently, being used to support the drive of a threshing mill.
was a hole though the monolith which was reputed to have strong powers.
Lovers clasped hands through the hole and swore their everlasting love.
The "Oath of Odin" was then said and the contract was binding forwever.
In fact other forms of contract were also carried out here, in what may
have been a very ancient ceremony. The proximity to the henges,
Maeshowe and Barnhouse suggest that this stone, whose socket has been
found was an important part of the monument complex in this area.
The Barnhouse stone, now rather meanly surrounded by four straining posts and inaccessible in the middle of a field, lies south west of Maeshowe, almost in line with its entry passage, and south east of the Standing Stones. Several alignments are possible from here, especially at summer solstice sunset, when the sun sets in the north west. Endless speculation is possible about the role these fascinating stones played in the life of the Neolithic people. This is all part of the fun of a visit to them!