The Scapa Flow Landscape Partnership Scheme

Carved stone at Sandwick Bay, South Ronaldsay

Carved stone found on the beach. It is on display at the Orkney Museum. (c) SFLPSDavid Barnes was walking by Sandwick Bay in South Ronaldsay after some stormy weather when he saw a weathered stone with some pecked markings lying amongst the rocks. The design consisted of two concentric circles, which are a feature in Neolithic art and are often found incorporated into burial monuments or on portable stones placed next to burials. The designs are thought to be a sacred or religious symbols and the design on this stone is similar to those found on the Westray Stone and the Eday Manse stone, both of which are from burial cairns.

The stone was found in an area which is known to have contained a chambered cairn as well as Bronze Age mounds and burnt mounds. It is thought the stone is a fragment from a much bigger piece, which was part of the cairn and has been washed onto the shore through coastal erosion. It could be as much as 5-6,000 years old.

When David Barnes saw the stone he at first thought the markings were due to natural erosion, but as the light changed he noticed the lines formed a pattern. It is amazing he found this stone at all.

Photos of the stones from both Eday and Westray have been included for comparison. Notice how similar the designs are. It is likely this stone was very much bigger, but being made of sandstone, it is more prone to erosion.