As luck would have it, by lunchtime the skies had cleared, so I drove across to Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar. A ranger from Historic Scotland was conducting a walk and talk, which I was keen to experience, for although we've been visiting Orkney for 8 years, we had never attended one of these group tours.
Under increasingly blue skies, with the sunlight glinting off puddles on the waterlogged ground, I arrived at the car park to be greeted by one other vehicle, which belonged to Ranger Sandra. It was my very good fortune to have a personal tour of the site, which included a great deal of information about the henge, but also about the surrounding landscape. In fact, we must have talked about every period of history from the Neolithic to the present day, pretty much all of it relevant to the World Heritage site, which illustrates quite neatly what archaeologists say, that sites often have a continuity of occupation or use. This is certainly true for the Ring of Brodgar, whatever made it special 5000 years ago, its mojo is still talking to us in the 21st Century. After all, we're the same folk really, just in different clothes. At the end of the talk, after I'd given my profuse thanks for such an excellent tour, Ranger Sandra left me alone with the stones for some quality henge time.
I could, possibly should, have returned to the car and grabbed my camera gear, but the moment was now and I didn't want to lose it.
The golden light radiated from each lichen-clad slab and I soaked it up, trying to absorb the knowledge of several millennia and the scenes that these stones have witnessed. Wisps of white cloud swept across the azure sky, like ethereal memories of rituals that cannot be decoded, despite all our technology and ingenuity. There was a peace and tranquillity to the place that must be quite rare these days. No birds calling, no other visitors, no traffic. For this beating Heart of Neolithic Orkney draws people to it, as it always has done and as it always will.