Monuments as landscape: Creating the centre of the world in late neolithic orkney

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110 Citations (Scopus)


In Britain and Ireland there is a tendency for late Neolithic monuments to be clustered in groups and located at similar topographic positions. In this paper a group of spectacular monuments, including henges, passage graves and standing stones, in Orkney is examined. It is shown how the development of the monuments occurs and how they draw on the visual imagery of the natural world in their architectural representation. As each monument embodies a different role and purpose so its architecture and appearance vary. Through a sequence of construction a single area of Mainland, Orkney, becomes transformed as new ‘landscapes’ are created and manipulated. Ultimately, this particular place comes to embody the totality of the Neolithic Orcadian world and acts as an axis mundi for cosmological belief.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-208
Number of pages19
JournalWorld Archaeology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 1996


  • Architecture
  • Landscape
  • Monuments
  • Neolithic
  • Orkney


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