Have you ever visited a place and wished you had a time machine so you could see how it looked in earlier centuries? Now I’m back from my holiday on Orkney, I’ve got loads more entries on my ‘places to go back to when I have a time machine’ list.
Right near the top of the list is the Standing Stones of Stenness. Sadly there are only four stones left, most of the others having been dynamited by a tenant farmer in the nineteenth century. You can still see the holes drilled in the stone intended to be his next victim, but the locals stopped him and saw him off the island. I would love to go back to a time before the stones were destroyed and see the full circle. The survivors are breath-taking, so the complete circle must have been an awesome sight.
Another standing stone the farmer dynamited was a nearby stone called the Thor Stone. This had a hole near the base and was hugely important to the islanders. Couples who wished to marry would stand on either side of the stone, clasp hands through the hole and make their vows. These vows were so powerful that many couples didn’t bother going to church for a legal wedding. Vows taken at the Thor Stone held even after the death of one of the couple, so if a man was going off to sea the couple would return to the stone to undo their vows, thus freeing the woman to marry again should the husband be lost at sea. If he returned, they would go back to the Thor Stone to retake their vows. With the Thor Stone having such a powerful role in local ritual, I can only imagine how devastated the Orcadians must have been to lose it. I would love to use my time machine to witness one of the marriages solemnised there.
Where would you go if you had a time machine?
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