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Tomb of the Eagles

Chambered Cairn


Field Notes From The Tomb of the Eagles 5th September 2000

We arrived in Orkney on 3rd September 2000 with the idea that we would tour around and had pitched camp initially at the campsite at Stromness which was on the headland overlooking the harbour at this stage we had a vague plan to camp at different places as the week wore on.
Every morning as we paid for another night at the Stromness campsite the woman who ran the site would ask where it was we were off to that day Stennes, Maes Howe etc, until one day we said that we were going to visit The Tomb of the Eagles. This led to the following conversation which if you have seen the Comic Strip’s Five Go Mad in Dorset ran along the lines of the exchange Robbie Coltrane as the old gypsy/ old woman etc warning the Famous Five not to go anywhere Kneecap Hill (a strange place full of mysterious comings and goings etc)

It went something like this

Campsite warden (in mysterious knowing all but giving nothing away Scottish tone)“So your are going to the Tomb of the Eagles are you? Aye that’s a place you will never forget you will still be talking about it many years from now”
Joolio Geordio “ Why what is it like?”
Campsite warden “ I cannot tell you but you will never find me going all of the way out there but it will be an experience that you will never forget aye you and your friend!!”

I have to admit that in the true Scooby Doo tradition that this got the alarm bells going somewhat – what was out there that was so scary?

Julian described the Tomb of the Eagles as an outstanding place a perfect place “Visit the Tomb of the Eagles it’s a killer.”
So with curiosity and trepidation we drove down there past the Churchill Barrier and the hulks of wrecked ships to the Tomb of the Eagles. And what did we find?

Firstly an excellent and informative presentation on the history of the tomb at the museum at Isbister Farm handling some of the relics found there. Then a walk to the Iron Age House where Ronald Simison who had discovered the tomb, again gave an excellent talk on the history of the house.
And then we were off to the Tomb itself the walk to this is worth the admission fee alone, along the coast skirting high cliffs and the weather was perfect “on a clear day you can see forever”

The tomb itself sits not far from the cliff edge facing the sea Julian was right a perfect place. To get into it you have to lie on a wooden trolley (like those used by Charles Bronson in the Great Escape) and pull yourself through the tunnel using the rope.

And what did we find? Come on that would be like giving away the ending to The Mousetrap! If you haven’t been there already then you really need to go. If you have already been then go again.

Incidentally for those of you that are interested the reason for the Campsite Warden’s mysterious warning was that two long lost relatives returning from Australia had tried to enter the tomb and not being as slimline as they once were had become wedged in the tunnel. I take it that this was a hint for me to go on a diet!!

Joolio Geordio Posted by Joolio Geordio
16th January 2002ce

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