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


Chambered Tomb


I was surprised that we had to book in advance as it was hardly tourist season, but we dutifully turned up at 2.45pm and all got slightly hysterical! This was our first real site and there were 9 rather excitable amateur archaeologists just itching to get inside! The first disappointment was the "no photography" warning. Why do they do this? Is it so you will buy the guidebook at the end, so you can have pictures of the place? Grrr. It always really annoys me (having said that, the Historic Scotland "Maes Howe and the heart of Neolithic Orkney" guide book is rather good!)

Anyhoo, the 9 of us and 3 other visitors dutifully filed in and the first thing that struck me was how small it was! I have seen Maes Howe on TV many times and it always seemed so much bigger. When you see in on The Modern Antiquarian, it looks positively roomy - and Julian Cope isn't exactly small, is he? - but once in there with 12 other people, the place seemed really compact. The guide spent a lot of time talking about the inscriptions and less time about how and why it was built but it was generally an interesting visit. There was some discussion as to whether the internal stones had been part of a stone circle- or possible 4 Poster - and the burial mound built around it at some later date, which was thought-provoking and set us amateur archaeos off on one of our rambling debates (more of which to come later!).

Maes Howe is spectacular and interesting and worthy of more than a 20 minute tour - I just really wish they would let you have some time in these places to really get a feel for them. Lord only knows what it is like in high season when the tourist coaches are pulling in, one after the other but at least we had a fairly small group and no one else queuing to get in behind us.
Vicster Posted by Vicster
27th October 2009ce

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