The Stan Stane, North Ronaldsay
At Holland, in North
Ronaldsay, the most northerly of Orkney's islands, is a single megalith known locally as the "Stan
Stane" - a dialect term simply meaning "standing stone".
Over 13 feet high and three feet wide, the
stone tapers from its base, narrowing slightly towards the top.
It has been
suggested that this solitary monolith was once an outlier for a
stone circle that may have stood around the Torness area of the
Like the famous Odin
Stone, in the Mainland parish of Stenness, the North Ronaldsay
standing stone is perforated - the hole in this case about two metres
up from the ground.
However, the hole in the
Stan Stane is much smaller than that once found in the Odin Stone and
there are no traditions of it being used in a similar fashion.
The stone is, however, the focal point for
a centuries-old North Ronaldsay New Year custom that has seen the
island's inhabitants gathering around it and singing.
Writing at the end of the 18th century,
the Reverend William Clouston, minister of the Cross and Burness
Parish of Sanday, said:
"The writer of this
has seen fifty of the inhabitants assembled there on the first
day of the year, and dancing with moonlight, with no other music
than their own singing."