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



Visited Orkney last week and spent a day on Rousay. Unfortunately Midhowe was closed due to Foot in Mouth, but we went to 3 of the other chambered cairns.
Walking from the ferry terminal, the first along the way is also the most impressive-Taversoe Tuick. Discovered about 100 y ago, in true Victorian fashion by the Lady of the house in whose grounds the tomb is located (she was shocked to think of the summer afternoons spent lying on the mound unaware of the skeletons a short distance below the surface). The tomb is unusual, having two layers, and seems to have been designed this way rather than having a second tier added at a later time. Access is through an artificial opening in the upper layer-the original creep is very low & narrow and blocked by a grille. There's an exciting feeling inside - a metal ladder allows access to the lower chambers, all of which are well preserved. There's a glass roof which leaves the chamber feeling bright and airy, not damp at all. Outside there's a small chamber adjacent to the main tomb with a heavy wooden door covering it over - the boy had to creep inside and be closed in...
About a mile further along the road is Blackhammer cairn, situated about 50 yards from the roadside. This is a long stalled cairn, reminiscent of Unstan, but longer. It is preserved up to chest height, with concrete walls & ceiling. A heavy sliding door permits access in the midpart of the tomb - alas no symbolic crawling to enter.

The third cairn we visited was the Knowe of Yarso. This is a further mile away, but requires you to take a path (signposted) up a farm track and over some heather hillside for about 1/2 a mile from the roadside. We did this in a sudden blizzard of snow and hail, which made the cairn a real haven when we reached it. Again it is of stalled construction, with an outer and an inner chamber, reasonably large. Entry via a metal door - no creep. Again, it is preserved about 5 feet from the ground, with concrete above. A bit of a disappointment after the walk up - had little atmosphere I felt. The view from the top is spectacular however - looking over Eynhallow and the mainland.
Posted by a23
24th April 2001ce
Edited 7th June 2007ce

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