Header Photo:

Travel-ted on the summit of Burnswark Hill, Dumfriesshire. 2015 © Lucy Gibbon

Monday, 6 February 2017

Travel-ted and the Moving Stones of Orkney

Travel-ted and Ethie are exploring the islands of Orkney. There are lots of old standing stones, stone circles and stone buildings in Orkney. 
The Broch o Gurness

One of the stone buildings is called Maeshowe. Maeshowe is a special place.


The entrance is a long low passage which opens up into a stone room. In December every year the setting sun shines along the passage and lights up the stone room.

One year something unusual happens. Overnight a very large stone appears in the field opposite Maeshowe. No-one knows who put it there. All the people think it is amazing and go to have a look. The archaeologists all come and take measurements and dig all around it, but find nothing else. Here is T-T next to the large stone.

As they all stand looking at it one man comes rushing across the field, shouting, "You have to move that stone! You have to move that stone!"

"Why?" everyone replies.

"Because it is blocking the view. It will stop the sun from reaching the passageway into Maeshowe. Look I've worked it out."

He shows Ethie a page full of lines, circles and sums. She doesn't understand any of it.

"How can we move it? It's huge! Too heavy to lift. Maybe a tractor could push it over? "

They asked Ethie's friend Bob if he would try pushing it over with his tractor.

But then another archaeologist comes running across the field,

"Stop! You can't damage it. It is one of the Standing Stones of Stenness. I think it has been moved. Look!"

Sure enough when they look across the fields to the Stones of Stenness, one of them, the biggest one is missing!

None of the experts can figure out how this massive stone can have been moved overnight with no evidence of digging or dragging.

"This is quite a mystery." said Travel-ted, then he has an idea. He whispers in Ethie's ear.

"Ask the experts if anything has happened around the any of the stone circles or buildings recently."

Ethie does so and the archaeologists say that a group of language experts have been studying the runic symbols at Skara Brae.

"Hmm" said Ted. "I wonder if they read any of it out loud?"

"What are you getting at Ted?" asks Ethie.

 "I'm not sure. Take me to the library! I want to look something up."

They head to Orkney Library & Archive where Travel-ted looks at the folklore books in the Orkney Room.

"A-ha! Found it, listen to this Ethie. This is the tale of the giants who used to live in Orkney, but were caught in the sun and all turned to stone. Somehow, I think, one of them must have come back to life again and moved."

"How is that possible?" said Ethie.

"An ancient spell, I think", said Ted. "Ok, now we need to go to Skara Brae stone village."

At Skara Brae, Ted sets off on his own through the village looking for the runic symbols. People are not allowed in the village in case they damage it, so Ethie just keeps watch. But Travel-Ted is so small, he can't harm anything.

"I've found it", he shouts back to Ethie, "it's on one of the stone beds."

"Ok, now we need to find the language people. They need to repeat the spell, so that the stone giant will move again. And we have to be carefull with time, so the giant doesn't wander off."

"I have an idea about that", said Ethie.

What a lot they have to organise. They find the language people at the Ring of Brodgar, and tell them the story. 

They both laugh, thinking it's a big joke, but agree to help anyway, for fun. Ethie then goes shopping to Shearers and buys a portable barbeque set, matches and some sausages.

At 4 am they all meet up at the Stones of Stenness. Behind one of the remaining stones, Ethie sets up the barbeque and soon a lovely smell of cooking sausages wafts through the air.

"Ok", said Ted, "Say the spell!".

One of the language experts reads it out and suddenly all the stones in the circle come to life.

"Eek!" says Ted.

"Run!" shouts Ethie.

"Hide!" shout the rune experts.

They all run as fast as they can to the other side of the field. Hiding behind a water trough, they peer at the amazing sight before them. A group of giants are laughing, shaking hands and patting each other on the back. Then they watch as another giant runs into the group.

"Brugott, we thought you had escaped!"

"Me too", said Brugott, "but I got stuck again over at Maeshowe."

"We're all free at last!" one shouted, punching the air with his fists, " Right. Let's go home before the sun rises."

"Wait a minute", another one sniffs the air, "I smell something tasty. Let's eat first!"

They all sit in a circle and begin eating the sausages. Giants really are a bit stupid, because as they eat, they don't notice that the sun is rising, and they all turn to stone again.

"Phew" said Ted. "That was a close one."

 "All the stones are back in the circle again and Maeshowe will light up as normal this year", says Ethie, "You've saved the day, Ted."

"You're welcome", says Ted.


  1. A Giant standing ovation on the story of the Stones of Stenness. I especially enjoyed the experts in picture 13, they are definitely outstanding in the field of Stenness. It is A-Maeshowe much giants like sausages. Do you think they will ever find the meaning of T-T's found in the field? Over time I hope that the archeologists can tell us more of these Village people. As a lover of history, I was also glad to see the respect that Ted & Ethie showed toward this sacred place, unlike some farmers of the past destined to Rune the fragile history of the past. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story with all of us, I must be off now for I have a craving for sausages for some reason.

    1. Thanks for your comment J. Travel-ted and I love puns and appreciate all your feedback. We hope you enjoyed your sausages!

  2. Fab!! Love it when Travel Ted shouts 'Eek!'

    1. Thanks Tess. Glad you like it. I think "Eek!" is my favourite word.


I hope you enjoy Travel-ted's adventures. Please feel free to leave a comment. Lucetta, x