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

Tomb of the Eagles

Chambered Cairn


Discovered by a farmer (Mr. R Simison) and then leter excavated by students the tomb is managed by the farmer's family with a little help from Scottish heritage. As well as the tomb there is a Stone Age house nearby. Both sites are maintained by the Simisons.

Like the Dwarfie Staine, this tomb's position is full of drama. The tomb sits a top of a cliff face looking out to sea and can be rough if the weather isn't nice. Getting inside is fun. Pull yourself into the tomb on the 'Pensioners Skateboard' just like Indiana Jones. Once inside the fun never ends!! A light switch reveals a set of genuine skulls found in one of the tombs' cells.

Bodies were allegedly left outside for the eagles to de-flesh before the bones were placed inside the tomb. Many eagle talons were found inside the tomb suggesting that the eagle was some kind of totem for the people here. Dog skeletons were found inside Maes Howe and Cuween which has also been sugested as a sign of tribal totem.

When we got back they farmers daughter gave us a talk on both the tomb and the house. We handled various artifacts but no skulls.

She gave refreshing 'common sense' aproach to the archeology of the house and tomb and the lives of the people who built them.

BTW we also learnt here that burnt mounds are nothing mysterious, they're just piles of rubble created by the discarded and cracked stones used for cooking. Behind the house is a burnt mound half excavated, no evil there then.

Getting there:

This site means driving down to South Ronaldsay for at least an hour or so. Take the A961 south of Kirkwall and just keep going. You reach the island by a series of barriers created during the war and there are a couple of skuppered German war ships still poking out of the water. When it seems like your going no where you will see a sign for the tomb.

When you do get there you will be supplied with oilskins if needed (depends on the weather) and then allowed to drive a little way up to the house site. From there you'll take a scenic walk along the cliff face to the tomb.
Posted by JCHC
31st October 2002ce

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