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  Orkney's Giant Folklore

The dancing giants of Brodgar

Brodgar Giants: Illustration by Sigurd TowrieFrom the south-west, looking across the water of the Stenness Loch, the stones that make up the megalithic ring can be difficult to pick out.

In the thick mist that often shrouds the area, however, they become instantly obvious.

They have a dominating presence, appearing as, just as the folklore dictates, lumbering giants, bowed down and bent, as though bearing a great weight.

Approaching the ring from the south-east, these stone creatures appear to trudge wearily in a clockwise circle...

One dark, starry night, a very long time ago, a group of fearsome giants crossed the causeway on to the Ness of Brodgar.

Once across, they gathered in a field that had the Stenness Loch to its left and the Harray Loch to the right. There, they decided to dance.

From the folds of his cloak the fiddler took out an ancient fiddle and began a swirling reel. Upon hearing the music, his companions joined hands then, whooping and shouting like fools, formed a circle and danced. The ground beneath their feet fairly trembled as the colossal dancers whirled round and round, faster and faster.

So great was their enjoyment of the dance that they forgot to pay attention to the eastern horizon and lost all thought as to how quickly the night was passing.

Then, before they knew it, the morning sun crept into the sky behind them and with a shriek and a moan, the newborn rays of light touched the dancing giants.

No sooner had the golden light touched their skin than they turned into cold, hard stone...

And there they remained.

To this day, visitors to the Ness of Brodgar can see their gigantic petrified bodies, frozen rigid in the circle in which they danced.

A short way away from the ring of giants stands all that remains of the fiddler - the solitary stone now known as the Comet Stone.

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