Briefing – Ring of Brodgar Conservation Work

Historic Environment Scotland is about to start work on the latest phase of conservation at Ring of Brodgar. This work requires temporary access restrictions on the inner path through the circle, before we introduce our new management plan in Spring 2018. This briefing is intended to outline the work to date and our future plans, to address any questions you might have. The Site Ring of Brodgar is thought to have been constructed between 2500BC and 2000BC, originally made up of 60 stones on an earthwork henge. Today, 27 stones remain with the site attracting tourists from across the world, keen to see one of the largest stone circles in Britain. Situated on a low spur of land separating the freshwater Loch of Harray and from the saltwater Loch of Stenness, drainage at the site has long been a challenge, with paths liable to become boggy in wet weather. Hard standing paths and mains connected drainage are not considered suitable for the site due to the irreparable damage they would cause to archaeological layer and disruption to the rolling, grassy landscape that the site is set in.

The Project

Following research into drainage and footfall at other Neolithic sites, such as Stonehenge, a pilot drainage scheme was installed at the site in 2015. This proved to be successful, and through 2016 and 2017, work has been underway to install new hidden drainage system, composed of a geotextile membrane, gravel, sand and perforated pipes topped with wear-resistant turf. This arrangement draws water away from the pathways naturally, reducing boggy conditions..

Status

Parts of the Ring have been restricted through the summer to allow work to take place, which has led to the concentration of visitors on the first area where work was completed. To allow for this section of turf to be repaired and for all of the new turf to be allowed to bed down, access to the inner path at Brodgar is to be restricted until Spring 2018. This allows us the opportunity to ensure that the newly laid turf is healthy and strong ahead of the Summer season

Restrictions from November 2017

Future Plans

From March 2018, we will be implementing a new active management system at Brodgar. This will see sections of pathway roped off, with Rangers on hand to direct visitors. By alternating routes around the stones, the path and turf have time to rest, helping to keep them in good condition. Temporary raised paths will also be installed on the causeways, which experience the highest volume of foot traffic, to prevent damage. Improvements on site are part of a larger plan to monitor and record the conditions of Ring of Brodgar, and we are also looking at remote visitor access options such as creating 3D digital models of the stones and the site. Restrictions from November 2017

Alternating Routes from Spring 2018

Improvements on site are part of a larger plan to monitor and record the conditions of Ring of Brodgar, and we are also looking at remote visitor access options such as creating 3D digital models of the stones and the site.