At http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2014/08/neolithic-orkney/smith-text … the temple complex at the Ness of Brodgar was built around 3000BC but only some 10 per cent of stone buildings at the site have been excavated. A lot has been talked about the pottery, Grooved Ware, as it pops up at Stonehenge. Euan MacKie has written a fair bit on the pottery distribution around Britain, and some others have suggested that people moved from 'up north' to lowland Britain but this view appears unwarranted as we now learn that the Ness of Brodgar complex went bottoms up just as Stonehenge was changing perspectives – rebuilding and reinventing itself. Both appear to have been involved in what nobody can quite a put a finger on – something that was game changing.
Euan MacKie associated grooved ware with a societal elite, one that he defined as astronomer priests (for no particular reason but that it was a populist idea at the time – if one took Alexander Thom seriously, and MacKie always did). In mainstream the issue is wide open – but astronomy and stone circles is at the moment out of popularity in academic quarters (if it ever was). The academics of course closed down the astronomy link with megaliths many years ago – and have kept the lid on for many a long year. Strangely, it is quite popular in other countries – but UK academics don't have the kind of reach they used to have in the old days.
The idea that Orkney was isolated is given a drubbing by National Geographic – and quite rightly so. The islands are blessed by the Gulf Stream current and it has always been a major shipping lane for trade – from long before the Romans. There is good reason for a Neolithic period complex in such a position. However, that is not what leapt out of the page when I read the link. It was the date of the demise – around 2300BC. This is the date chosen by Moe Mandelkehr for an Earth Wide Event -in a series of articles written for SIS some years ago and written up as book shortly before he died, 'The 2300BC Event' Outskirts Press of Denver:2006. In this article it is alleged the temple complex was purposely decommissioned after the inhabitants gathered together and had a huge feast (lots of cattle and animal bones all dated to the same year). After this, it is alleged, the inhabitants set fire to the complex and then ritually buried it under earth and rubble. They then abandoned the site. Did they upsticks and if so where did they go?
Over the centuries that followed the climate appears to have been a major barrier and stones were robbed from the temple site and used in homesteads and farm houses and farm buildings in various parts of the country. The final indignity was the Viking invasions which more or less decimated the male population of the Orkneys. Being situated on a main Viking sea way it is likely that Orkney people ended up as slaves in Islamic countries around the Mediterranean – and some of the women were taken as wives etc. Can we ever get at what happened 5000 years ago?