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Six degrees of Swandro

You're probably familiar with six degrees of separation - everything in the world can be connected by only six steps - I've been playing the Six Degrees of Swandro where every site and happening in Orkney can be connected to our site at Swandro, usually in a lot fewer steps than six. That's not counting all the obvious links, like linking Maeshowe to Swandro because they're both chambered tombs, or Buckquoy to Swandro as they're both Pictish settlements - that's cheating. I mean playing properly by the rules.

Take a random example: St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall - about as far as you can get from an archaeological dig on the shore in Rousay, right?

Interior of the 12th century St Magnus' Cathedral
Interior of the 12th century St Magnus' Cathedral

Wrong! The cathedral was founded in 1137 by Earl Rognvaldr Kali Kollson in honour of his uncle Magnus Erlendson, who was brutally murdered by his Cousin Hakon Paulsson; Hakon's son Earl Paul Hakonsson was hunting otters on the shore on Sigurd of Westness' estate in Rousay when he was kidnapped from the shore at Swandro by Svein Asleifarson, so the Cathedral links to Swandro in four steps.

Or how about the Ring of Brodgar:

Ring of Brodgar
Ring of Brodgar

You can link Brodgar to Swandro in even fewer steps: trenches across the ditch at Brodgar were excavated in the 1970s by Professor Colin Renfrew, who visited the dig at Pool Bay in Sanday with a film crew in the 1980s, when the digging team included Steve & Julie, now site co-directors at the Knowe of Swandro. I feel a pub quiz coming on!



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