The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

The Dwarfie Stane

Chambered Tomb


Visited 7.6.12

We drove off the ferry and headed straight for the Dwarfie Stane.
The wind was blowing a gale and the crossing was somewhat bumpy!

The drizzle was coming down and the mountains were shrouded in mist.
As we drove north through Hoy the road climbed and the mist worsened.
I had planned to stop at Betty Corrigall’s grave but drove past it as we couldn’t see it!

We then came off the B9047 and scanned the hillside to try to spot the tomb.
We headed south until we reached the small parking area and peered across the moor to see the path leading to the tomb vanish in the mist.
North Hoy is a very desolate and remote place – a land of peat moorland.
In this area there are no houses, no farms – no signs of habitation at all.

Karen thought we were mad as Dafydd and myself put our waterproofs on and headed out into the gloom.
To say the walk was atmospheric would be an understatement.
The mist swirled around us; one minute we could see perhaps 20 metres ahead – the next 2 metres.
The wooden slats on the walkway were wet and slippery. The ‘path’ then becomes a small stream as we headed higher up the hillside.

Then we saw it.
Peeping out of the mist – then it was gone.
I have to confess I started to get very excited, my pulse quickened – so did my steps.
I encouraged Dafydd on and eventually we reached the tomb.
Needless to say we had the place to ourselves!

Wow – this is fantastic.
The huge lump of rock was bigger than I expected and we both quickly dived inside to get out of the wind and drizzle.
Once inside all was perfectly quiet. Dafydd seemed to be completely at home.

The quality of the workmanship to create this tomb is simply stunning.
It is incredible to think that this was created without metal tools.
The carving of the tomb, the quality of the finish easily compares with the great burial chambers of Orkney. In fact I would say this tomb rates as highly as any other final resting place you would care to think of.

The side chamber with the ‘bed’ and ‘pillow’ is a work of art and a fitting resting place for someone obviously very important.

The weather outside seemed to be getting worse but inside all was well.
I could have stayed here for hours but Dafydd was by now starting to get a bit restless and I was conscious of Karen and Sophie waiting in the car.

We ventured outside and walked around this mighty lump of rock and its equally mighty blocking stone.

I am sure on a clear day the views would be excellent but not today.
Not that I mind at all as I think the swirling mist only added to the experience.
In all the sites I have ever visited I would say this one has been the most atmospheric.
It is certainly one that will always stay fondly in my memory.

This is a truly magical place and I can’t recommend a visit highly enough.
Yes I know it is a long way to travel and yes I know it is in a remote spot.
But even if I had not visited another site on Orkney it would have been worth the cost and effort just to visit the Dwarfie Stane.
If you are at all able please make the effort to visit – you will not be disappointed.

On the back south through Hoy the mist started to lift and this time we could see Betty’s grave from the road.
There is a small parking area and a sign post – the white picket fence had seen better days but was still standing.
I walked over and paid my respects. A very poignant place given Betty’s story.
A small donation box was next to her grave for the upkeep of the grave. I of course made a contribution.

It is strange how two graves in a remote area on a Scottish island; separated in time by thousands of years; could have such a profound affect on me.
I wonder what it all means?
Posted by CARL
16th July 2012ce

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