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

The Fairy Knowe

Chambered Cairn


This has to be the most fabulous cairn in Orkney! Yes, it's dwarved by the might and elegance of Maes Howe, but it beats them all on atmosphere for my money.
The tomb is set up a farm track, well signposted, about half a mile out of Finstown (if coming from Brogar). There's a gentle slope to climb, and the monument sits pertly nestling inot the hillside. Historic Scotland provide a torch beside the entry, and the tomb wasn't locked (day or night).
Creeping inside for the first time is a bit of an act of faith...esp if your torch is low on batteries! There is a low, narrow entrance of maybe 5.5 metres, which was wet and made one mess of my jeans. Inside the tomb is beautifully restored and entirely dark - no artificial roof with light panels here. The main chamber is a good height - maybe 61/2 -7 feet and there are 3 chambers opening off. Each of these is also of good height, allowing you to stand erect inside but the entry to each is narrow and not for those of a claustrophobic disposition. The chamber facing the entrance has a double chamber inside.
The construction of the tomb is beautifully done with small flagstones and if you switch your torch off inside you could easily be back the 5000 years to it's building. The symbolic crawling back inside the mother was particularly strong in here - I could have stayed for hours! So good we visited it 3 times over our week on the island. A must!
Posted by a23
26th August 2001ce

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