I can't promise the same will happen for you but if you want an amusing romantic story to tell you could do worse than going to Maeshowe on Orkney Mainland. My girlfriend and I were there a few years ago, standing opposite each other among the rest of the group in this small Neolithic chambered burial cairn. Our Historic Scotland guide (trying to ensure we could all see a particularly fine piece of 12th century Viking graffiti) asked whether I'd like to move to stand beside my wife? My hesitation evidently made her doubt the status of our relationship for she then asked,"You are married aren't you?"... I had to admit we weren't, upon which she promptly offered to conduct the ceremony there and then, telling us she was “qualified”! A response absolutely typical of the generous and ever helpful Orcadians.
But what a magical place to get married! Visit Maeshowe on the shortest day of the year and if the sky is clear the rays of the setting sun will shine for several moments directly along the narrow entrance passageway, dramatically illuminating the wall of the 5000-year-old chamber within.
Regarding the wedding - unfortunately for us no cake had been prepared so we were forced to decline our guide's kind offer. We'll have to go again another year ...
Last February me, my boyfriend and two mates drove from Manchester to Aberdeen, hopped on the ferry to Kirkwall and drove onto Orkney in the dead of night. We woke up in our lovely Scapa Flow Lodge overlooking the bay, cooked up a big breakfast and headed out into the neolithic theme park that is the Orkney mainland. We took a guided tour of the mysterious and Viking-graffitied Maes Howe and explored the underground maze of houses that is Skarabrae.
But the most magical experience of the holiday was heading off of the main road and seeing the Ring of Brodgar open up before us as we drove over the brow of the hill. The deserted site saw us drop our cheese and beetroot chutney sarnies to marvel and wander/wonder among the perfectly placed stones. We couldn't help but imagine who'd built them, ask ourselves whether those long gone people had been inspired most by the rugged land or the starry sky, and pretend for those few moments that the stones belonged only to us. There was nothing to distract us but the fast falling sun and the draw of the cosy pub, tasty whiskey, and live music we'd been promised back in Kirkwall.
Scorralee, Scorradale Road, Orphir, Orkney, KW17 2RF
Google map: bit.ly/viSsjx
While the Stones of Stenness are not as numerous as the nearby Ring of Brodgar, this stone circle is much more peaceful. I almost don't want to recommend this as it is the ring's quiet calmness that seeps into you if you take the time to stand and stare. The combination of the size of the stones and the low rolling countryside mean that the circle can be seen from some considerable distance but for me it is the spirituality that you feel when standing within the circle that makes it special.
On the shore of the Loch of Stenness, Orkney
Google map: bit.ly/tShXMM
Its a burial tomb containing thousands of remains including skulls of our ancestors. The Tomb is entered through a tunnel and trolley (think the Great Escape!) which the kids loved. Once inside, you can see some of the remains which have been placed behind protective glass. There is also a museum where you get hands on with some of the items found in and around the tomb. The view from the tomb is spectacular, as its set next to cliffs overlooking the sea.
Tomb of Eagles, Liddle, St Margarets Hope, Orkney, Scotland, KW17 2RW
Google map: bit.ly/rqQ5yq
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