|This site was discovered in September 2010 by Hamish Mowatt of the Skeriies Bistro (hence early confusion over its whereabouts in South Ronaldsay) during work on his holiday homes at Banks. He found that one large flagstone to which no attention had been paid before covered a space in which a skull could be seen. It was soon realised that this was part of a chambered tomb that had suffered water ingress. Later reports added that this lay under a slight mound or ridge, partly removed by a JCB, that though much lower than that of the nearby Tomb of The Eagles would probably also have been seen from the sea. Not only had the tomb been built into the natural but it also started out as a rock-cut. Because this site is one of few found undisturbed in recent decades and it was feared material remains would deteriorate further under the standing water an emergency excavation was decided upon. This took place over two weeks October into November, though time was been lost to bad weather and nothing is yet known of the last few days [?abandoned as weather had worsened still further]. As a tomb entry lay through the short N/S leg of an L-shaped passage (a tee if you add the east chamber). There were five chambers altogether; one small cell off the north side, two small cells off the south side and two larger ones at either end of the long E/W section of the passage. The chambers used corbelled vaulting above courses of single stones. Many skeletal remains were found, chiefly skulls and fragments, but these as far as is known are all part of a final sealing of the tomb. This de-commissioning took place staccato over an extended period of time - basically slabs were placed over the cells, the human remains over these, and then further silty gray material completed the process.
Posted by wideford
27th November 2010ce