Dafydd was asleep so for a change I just took Sophie with me; which seemed a good idea at the time but as it turned out perhaps it wasn’t!
I picked Sophie up and we headed down hill across the fields to the huge ‘barn’ housing the equally huge chambered cairn.
A farmer was out muck-spreading which added to the ‘experience’.
As we arrived a couple of people were just leaving so we had the place to ourselves.
Although I had seen many photos of this site it is not until you are here that you can actually fully appreciate how big it is – it is massive!
It was a bit odd at first to be able to walk up above the tomb and look down into it but it does provide a very good view.
The green lichen which I had seen on the stones in similarly covered sites was also present here.
After a good look around it was time to head back to the car. However, this is when I realised it was not such a good idea to have brought Sophie as I was completely knackered by the time I had walked back up the hill and my legs had turned to lead – I must be getting old!
This is another of the many ‘must see’ sites on Rousay.
If you are coming to Orkney you really need to try to visit Rousay –it is a special place.
...it's quite astonishing!
It is a shame it's had to be housed in this way, but to preserve its wonders, definitely worth it. A large stone shed with metal and skylighted roof from which a series of walkways take you over the tomb, which is simply HUGE! A great lozenge shaped heap of stones and rubble, carefully corbelled at an angle on the outside walls, thick rubble and then through the middle a passageway 23ms long, yes - 23 of your earth metres! - with at least 12 pairs of stalls, some with little stone beds. Like all the other tombs on Orkney, the quality of the masonry is precise and in places, painstaking. Each stone marking out a stall is about 5 or 6 feet high and neatly fits into the passage walls.
This is easily one of the finest, grandest pieces of neolithic engineering I've ever seen. Certainly as impressive as Maeshowe. It feels like a temple.
We wondered 'why so big?', 'why here?' and not least 'how on earth...!?' We mused on it's
usage and wondered if as time had gone on, the bones of the dead had been moved over the centuries further down the passageway through successive stalls into the tomb, like a journey, until the bones reach the very end head stone, after which, that person becomes a fully-fledged 'ancestor'.
The 'why here?' question was more easily answered as we looked around for a place to picnic out of the wind by the cliffs. The tomb is built right on the shoreline, next to the flat sandstone rocks which form the water's edge, which chip and flake and can be quarried easily. To build a tomb of that magnitude, it's easier if access to the thousands of tons of building material is near at hand. And so it is. You can almost see where the stones were cut from.
Appalled at the metal cover to the site - a necessity I suppose following bad excavation, but why make the roof a white eyesore that can be seen from mainland Orkney?
Still a wonderful site and well worth a visit particularly last week when we had it to ourselves in glorious weather and crystal blue seas.
Midhowe Chambered Cairn, Rousay
Went to Rousay today- the wee ferry from Tingwall ('Eynhallow') was cool- just really a dirty great noisy bus-on-the-sea! We hired bikes from a woman called Helga near the pier and started cycling (my backside is still killing me- it's been a while since I've been on a bike and it shows!). We decided to cycle to the North of the island past all the sites and up to Midhowe chambered cairn and broch- then we'd visit all the sites on a leisurely cycle back down again- at least that was the plan! Of all the sites we visited on Rousay the most impressive was the Midhowe Cairn- it's housed in a massive stone n metal hanger and it's the biggest tomb I have ever seen- huge so it is! There are white metal girder walkways suspended from the roof that run the whole length of the cairn- it's cool cos it means you can wander about above it and get a real good look, but not very hands on. Went out and had lunch below the broch and were amazed at the wave power in Eynhallow Sound- scary stuff.