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


The Dwarfie Stane

Chambered Tomb

<b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by widefordImage © wideford
Also known as:
  • Dwarfie Stone

Nearest Town:Stromness (9km N)
OS Ref (GB):   HY244004 / Sheets: 6, 7
Latitude:58° 53' 4.21" N
Longitude:   3° 18' 42" W

Discussion Topics0 discussions
Start a topic

Show map   (inline Google Map)

Sites in this group:

7 posts
Dwarfie Hamars Cave / Rock Shelter
4 posts
Patrick Stone Natural Rock Feature

Images (click to view fullsize)

Add an image Add an image
<b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by thelonious <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by thelonious <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by thelonious <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by thelonious <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by thelonious <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by harestonesdown <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by harestonesdown <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by harestonesdown <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by Zeb <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by Zeb <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by wideford <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by wideford <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by wideford <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by wideford <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by wideford <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by wideford <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by wideford <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by wideford <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by wideford <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by wideford <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by wideford <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by wideford <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by wideford <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by wideford <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by wideford <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by thelonious <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by thelonious <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by thelonious <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by thelonious <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by Ravenfeather <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by Ravenfeather <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by notjamesbond <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by notjamesbond <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by stewartb <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by Kammer <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by Kammer <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by JCHC <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by JCHC <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by JCHC <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by JCHC <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by JCHC <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by Martin <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by Martin <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by Martin <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by Martin <b>The Dwarfie Stane</b>Posted by Martin


Add fieldnotes Add fieldnotes
08/09/2021 – Going back for a second time is always a risk. First visit was back in 2013. Seeing the Dwarfie Stane for the first time was close to perfect. Returning had me worried. It just couldn’t be as good and I didn’t want anything to mess with my memory of that day.

We hadn’t planned another trip to Hoy this week (we were there just two days back walking on the hill Cuilags). The pull of the stone proved too strong. We took the 7.30am ferry from Stromness to Hoy and with the whole day ahead of us, we made our way to the site. Weather was good today and it’s a nice walk on a quiet road round Ward Hill to the signposted path off to the Dwarfie Stane. Midges were a little nippy this morning though.

The approach is good over boardwalks and builds the anticipation nicely. No one there when we reached the stone. Just us, the stone and the quiet landscape. It’s a really peaceful location. Felt like meeting an old friend. Still very, very good. The rock-cut tomb is a wonder and a must visit if you get the chance. Outside the entrance is the blocking stone. What I missed the first time was a ‘rejected’ blocking stone laying some 30m ESE. It’s a good one. The setting with the Dwarfie Hamars behind is wow.

We headed west to look for a big stone I remembered seeing last time. I guessed it was the St Patrick’s Stone mentioned by both wideford and Rhiannon in earlier posts. It’s about 300m away from the Dwarfie Stane. I couldn’t see any cup marks on it, holes yes but all looking natural to me. It’s a nice erratic.

Next we made the short but tough walk SE to climb Dwarfie Hamars. I really wanted to see the Dwarfie Stane from up above the Hamars. It was worth the effort. The view down is just fantastic and seeing the stane’s setting within the landscape is very special. The top is a very good place to sit and rest. Maybe not great in breeding season due to dive bombing bonxies and eagles also nest on Dwarfie Hamars so best to avoid at these times.

After a brew and a snack, we carried on along the edge to our next stop. I’d read about a cave high up on the Hamars on Canmore and also Orkneyjar. A rock shelter maybe used in prehistory by the folk who cut out the Dwarfie Stane? People are just guessing but I like an adventure. We looped passed the last of the crags and turned back across the side of the hill to make our way to the grid reference we had. It’s a bit tricky to get there and a little scrambly at times, nothing too bad. The ‘Rock Shelter’ was nice with a fine view.

We headed back over rough ground to the Dwarfie Stane for one last view and to say goodbye before making our way along the road again to the ferry to the mainland. Worth mentioning the lovely Beneth'ill Cafe near the pier, it’s good.

I’ll post up a few photos of the St Patrick’s Stone and the cave.

It’s a proper adventure to get to, the Dwarfie Stane is a amazing place. I shouldn’t have worried about visiting again. The wonder and magic of this site is always going to be here.
thelonious Posted by thelonious
14th September 2021ce
Edited 14th September 2021ce

Jump off the Moanes ferry, Folllow the obvious road..Take the first road left. Follow it. Signs will lead you there. It's by an obvious parking spot just after the second Dwarfie stone sign.
Theres a bothy about 4 miles away..if you get drunk and miss the ferry. :D
harestonesdown Posted by harestonesdown
20th May 2019ce

Visited today. 12/5/19. Camping at the point of Ness campsite so took the foot ferry from stromness to moaness. £8.80 return and secures me a good 8 hours to explore. It's been a lifelong dream for me to see old Dwarfie so I'm super excited. Everyone else from the ferry heads off in a different direction, some picture post ard village/ beach place. Who cares.
The 2 mile walk passes quite quickly though I'm taking anslow pace. Scenery is stunning and the weather couldnt be better.
Anyway arrive at the site and I'm alone. See someone else pull up so I make my way further up the hill to allow him peace as I've all day. He leaves within 10 minutes. My turn now.

So I walk around letting the anticipation build whilst checking out the grafitti, then head inside.
I'm totally elated by now and just bathe in the glory of the interior, its features and acoustics. I'm in heaven.
I spend a good 4 hours there, in and back out, taking hundreds of pics, sharing a live tour via facey, eat food, wander the area, eat food again, take more pics and vids. A group of four turn up so I retreat again climbing high up by the hammers for pics, discover a small standing stone that got to be so by some weird fortune. The group leave and I'm back again.
I wander the area again looking for the supposed cube shaped rock that reportedly has cup and ring Mark's, I find nothing of note. My left leg finds a big hole up to the knee despite most of the moor being tinder dry.
I dont think could ever have my fill of this amazing place but eventually I make my way back to the road and chat to the rspb guy stationed at the parking spot. Turns out hes a scope trained on the white tailed sea eagles sitting two chicks above old Dwarfie. I have a butchers through the scope and the female is visible of a little blurry at 50x magnification. I also take in a pair of hen harriers through his binos. Nice!

Eventually I start heading back to the ferry dock, turning repeatedly to have one last glance at this awesome rock, then out of sight it is. Lump in throat, just one tear shed. Honest.

Avebury. Stonehenge. Brodgar. Stennes. Keep them all. Give me Dwarfie.
I've still 4 days here. I may head back. :)
harestonesdown Posted by harestonesdown
13th May 2019ce

19/06/2013 - I don't know what I can add to the brilliant fieldnotes on here already but I feel I have to write something. This has to be one of the best sites I have ever been to in my life. The effort to get here is worth it, felt a bit like our own little pilgrimage.

We took the early ferry from Stromness to Moaness on Hoy. It was a beautiful morning as we walked the 3 miles or so along quiet roads to the Dwarfie Stane. The setting is lovely for the stone and we stood for awhile, just gazing at it and the surrounding landscape before entering. The feeling of calm inside is hard to describe. We sat and said little to each other. Time passed and we moved on.

Goes without saying, a must visit.

We looped back over Ward Hill with its incredible view over Orkney, back to the ferry.

A special day in my life.
thelonious Posted by thelonious
24th June 2013ce
Edited 25th June 2013ce

Visited 11th August 2012

We set off early from Kirkwall to catch the first ferry of the morning to Hoy, taking advantage of one of the extra sailings taking place that day due to the Kirwall County show being on. It’s severely foggy as we drive to Houton to get the boat, although I’m putting my trust in the weather forecast which is predicting a fine day later. I’m hoping this is the case, having experienced the bleakness of Hoy in grim weather before. My previous visits to the Dwarfie Stane have been via the foot passenger ferry from Stromness, and it’s nice not to have the long walk on foot to reach the tomb, with the ever present threat of missing the boat back and having to emulate Mr Mounsey by spending a night inside the Stane itself.

Arriving at Lyness is like entering an eerie otherworld, as the shapes of the large WW1 era oil tank, and the battleship guns outside the Scapa Flow museum loom out of the mist. The three other vehicles present on our crossing zoom off, and within ten minutes of disembarking we are alone, not a soul visible anywhere, and the feeling of being marooned on a deserted island all pervading.

By the time we have driven to Betty Corrigal’s grave the mist is thinning, and the lonely white gravestone is just visible away from the bleak road, which as it climbs higher breaks out above the fog to a gorgeously clear sunny blue sky. The Dwarfie Stane is well signposted from the road, and pulling into the nice roomy layby opposite the path, you can just make out the stone block of the tomb hunkering beneath the cliffs of the Dwarfie Hamars. Once again I’m struck by how remote this place feels, although now with sunny blue skies and the sparkling azure sea in the background things don’t feel as brooding as when I was last here.

The path to the stone is well defined, although rocky and occasionally rough going, and seems a further walk from the road than I remember, but once you reach the tomb it is so worth it! Such a unique monument, and I love the rich and redolent folklore surrounding it. It’s a truly magical location. Inside things are just as spectacular, surprisingly roomy and comfortable, I waste no time in reclining on the stone ‘bed’ and if I were camping in this desolate landscape I can think of worse places to shelter. I could certainly see Snorro the dwarf making a comfortable home here!

It’s also worth mentioning the incredible resonance of the acoustics inside the stone, in one particular area near the centre of the chamber the bass reverberations, even just from normal speech can be felt as a physical thing. It also looked as if there might be at least one large cupmark on the interior face of the blocking stone, which interestingly enough would have meant the carving was for the benefit of the interred occupant, rather than any sort of external decoration, and reminded me of the positioning of cupmarks on the interior cist slabs of tombs in the Kilmartin valley.

To echo Carls fieldnotes, this place is a definite must visit, and if you’re ever on Orkney it would be remiss not to visit the Dwarfie Stane, although taking the car over to Hoy is not cheap if budgets are tight the Stromness foot passenger ferry is more reasonable, although it would involve a long fairly strenuous walk to the stone, it makes it feel even more of a pilgrimage when you get there! (I think there may have been a place that hired out bicycles near to the ferry pier at Moaness on Hoy, last time I came via that route, but that was quite a while ago!)

It’s hard to leave on a day as glorious as today, but we pressed on to Rackwick, a few miles further along the road, and as beautiful a setting as ever you’re likely to see, surrounded by the sea and mountains, in splendid isolation with the islands of Orkney stretching before us, it reminds me again just how wonderful these islands are.
Ravenfeather Posted by Ravenfeather
8th October 2012ce

Visited 7.6.12

We drove off the ferry and headed straight for the Dwarfie Stane.
The wind was blowing a gale and the crossing was somewhat bumpy!

The drizzle was coming down and the mountains were shrouded in mist.
As we drove north through Hoy the road climbed and the mist worsened.
I had planned to stop at Betty Corrigall’s grave but drove past it as we couldn’t see it!

We then came off the B9047 and scanned the hillside to try to spot the tomb.
We headed south until we reached the small parking area and peered across the moor to see the path leading to the tomb vanish in the mist.
North Hoy is a very desolate and remote place – a land of peat moorland.
In this area there are no houses, no farms – no signs of habitation at all.

Karen thought we were mad as Dafydd and myself put our waterproofs on and headed out into the gloom.
To say the walk was atmospheric would be an understatement.
The mist swirled around us; one minute we could see perhaps 20 metres ahead – the next 2 metres.
The wooden slats on the walkway were wet and slippery. The ‘path’ then becomes a small stream as we headed higher up the hillside.

Then we saw it.
Peeping out of the mist – then it was gone.
I have to confess I started to get very excited, my pulse quickened – so did my steps.
I encouraged Dafydd on and eventually we reached the tomb.
Needless to say we had the place to ourselves!

Wow – this is fantastic.
The huge lump of rock was bigger than I expected and we both quickly dived inside to get out of the wind and drizzle.
Once inside all was perfectly quiet. Dafydd seemed to be completely at home.

The quality of the workmanship to create this tomb is simply stunning.
It is incredible to think that this was created without metal tools.
The carving of the tomb, the quality of the finish easily compares with the great burial chambers of Orkney. In fact I would say this tomb rates as highly as any other final resting place you would care to think of.

The side chamber with the ‘bed’ and ‘pillow’ is a work of art and a fitting resting place for someone obviously very important.

The weather outside seemed to be getting worse but inside all was well.
I could have stayed here for hours but Dafydd was by now starting to get a bit restless and I was conscious of Karen and Sophie waiting in the car.

We ventured outside and walked around this mighty lump of rock and its equally mighty blocking stone.

I am sure on a clear day the views would be excellent but not today.
Not that I mind at all as I think the swirling mist only added to the experience.
In all the sites I have ever visited I would say this one has been the most atmospheric.
It is certainly one that will always stay fondly in my memory.

This is a truly magical place and I can’t recommend a visit highly enough.
Yes I know it is a long way to travel and yes I know it is in a remote spot.
But even if I had not visited another site on Orkney it would have been worth the cost and effort just to visit the Dwarfie Stane.
If you are at all able please make the effort to visit – you will not be disappointed.

On the back south through Hoy the mist started to lift and this time we could see Betty’s grave from the road.
There is a small parking area and a sign post – the white picket fence had seen better days but was still standing.
I walked over and paid my respects. A very poignant place given Betty’s story.
A small donation box was next to her grave for the upkeep of the grave. I of course made a contribution.

It is strange how two graves in a remote area on a Scottish island; separated in time by thousands of years; could have such a profound affect on me.
I wonder what it all means?
Posted by CARL
16th July 2012ce

Depending on which source you believe, this is either the only, or one of only two, rockcut chamber tombs in Britain.

It may not be in the middle of nowhere but you can definitely see the middle of nowhere from here.
Posted by stewartb
4th December 2002ce

The most impressive approach to any of the sites we visited.

The island of Hoy were the tomb lies, is in itself a very desolate place, few houses few farms, and even fewer people.

Used by the British Navy during the war left the island with many wartime points of interest.

The Dwarfie Staine is to the more remote part north of the island, and lies between a huge valley made by the two main hills on the island.

You can reach it by car and then walk 1/3 mile up to the stone. It's an amazing place. Follow the B9047 north (it's the only road there) and watch for the sign as you approach the Bay of Quoys. Stop off an take a look at Betty Corrigall's grave on the way.
Posted by JCHC
31st October 2002ce

Dwarfie Stane, Hoy
Friday 16/8/96
We were up at 6:45am in our caravan at Durrsidale, near Evie, to get to the ferry terminal at Houtan for the 7:45am ferry- drove like a rally-driver-madman-possessed (which I'm not keen on!) to get there on time. It was a beautiful crossing on the 'Hoy Head'. We got to Linksness and decided to drive past the Dwarfie Stane first, which was an extremely difficult thing to do, and go see the Old Man beforehand. The weather was okay til we got about half way up the island and then a blanket of fog came down and stayed down! The Old Man was fab and I would recommend it if on Hoy to see the Dwarfie Stane. The cliffs around it are amazingly high and not for the faint-hearted. Anyways- back to the car after our very wet outing and back down to try and find the Stane. It's not the most obvious as most of the other large stanes/rocks/boulders that have fallen from Dwarfie Hamars all look very similar. However once in the car park there is a path straight (ish) to the right Stane. This is a really nice tomb cut from a solid piece of rock- it must have taken an age! I had my souterrain/tomb kit with me (ie- torch, candle lanterns, waterproof matches) but it's not really needed for this one as the chambers are just big enough to sit in. I carefully lit some candle lanterns anyway to add to the atmosphere and spent a very quiet, peaceful and contemplative time inside. Hoy is a cracking island and has some beautifully named places on it- just have a look at the OS map- Candle of the Sale, Summer of Hoy, Burn of the White Horse, Geo of the Light.
Posted by Martin
28th August 2001ce


Add folklore Add folklore
Rock-cut chamber tombs are reasonably common in the Mediterranean, but the only one to be found in Scotland is to be found on Hoy. The massive sandstone block was carved out about 4,000 years ago, forming a space that has been said to look like a bedroom with a hole on top. The legend in the late sixteenth century was that a giant was imprisoned here by another and gnawed his way out through the roof, though when Martin Martin visited the site around a 100 years later he heard the tradition that a giant couple had found shelter there. His description was most domestic: one of the ends within this Stone there is a cut out Bed and Pillow, capable of two Persons to lie in: At the other opposite end, there is a void space cut out resembling a Bed, and above both of these there is a large Hole, which is suppos'd was a vent for Smoak.

Considered as a worked stone it is immense, and the obvious labour involved in cutting it must have suggested giant strength. As accommodation however, the Dwarfie Stane would hardly be comfortable for any but a very small giant and his wife, especially if she was pregnant as suggested by the hollowing of her side of the bed. John Brand, writing in 1703, doubts the tale that a giant couple 'had this stone for their Castle':

I would rather think, seeing it could not accomodate any of a Gigantick stature, that it might be for the use of some Dwarf, as the Name seems to import, or it being remote from any House might be the retired Cell of some Melancholick Hermite.

A number of travellers from at least the eighteenth century onward have added graffiti to the tomb, inside and out. One name is that of the well-known antiquary Hugh Miller, and another of 'a Persian gentleman', Guilemus Mounsey, who apparently slept a couple of nights in the stone in 1850, and have the Hoy locals a fright when he appeared from inside in his flowing eastern robes.

Sir Walter Scott probably visited in August 1814 and refers to the site in The Pirate (1821):

The lonely shepherd avoids the place, for at sunrise, high noon, or sunset, the mis-shapen form of the necromantic owner may sometimes still be sitting by the Dwarfie Stone.

The 'necromantic owner' is named as Trolld, 'a dwarf famous in the northern sagas'. By this Scott means a troll, an ogre-like being that figures prominently in Scandinavian legend, but which has mutated in Orkney and Shetland lore as a trow or trowie, much closer to a fairy.

The Lore Of Scotland - A Guide To Scottish Legends

Westwood & Kingshill
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
24th January 2024ce

The earliest known account of the Dwarfie Stone is in a Latin description of Orkney in 1529 by Jo. Ben, an unknown author, variously identified as John the Benedictine, or John Bellenden. Ben relates that the chambers had been originally made by a giant (i.e., in point of strength) and his wife, and that the latter was enceinte at the time, as was shown by her bed, which had the shape of her body. He was unable to account for the use of the door stone farther than that it was related that another giant, who was at enmity with the occupant of the stone and grieved at his prosperity, made the door stone to fit the size of the entrance so that the occupant might be shut in and perish from hunger, and that thereafter when he himself ruled the island he might have the stone for his own use. With this end in view the other giant took the stone, thus made, to the top of the mountain, and with his arms threw it down into the entrance. The giant inside awakened, and found himself in a quandary, being unable to get out, whereupon he made a hole in the roof with his mallets, and so escaped.
From A W Johnston's article on the Dwarfie Stone in 'The Reliquary' April 1896. He also writes:
"Dr. Clouston, in his Guide to Orkney [1862], states that offerings used to be left in the stone by visitors."

also that
In Bleau's Atlas (1662) the stone is called the Dwarves' Stone, pumilionum lapis, or commonly "Dwarfie Steene." It is also related that it was a common belief that the cells conduced to the begetting of children by those couples who might live in them.
It may be noted that Ben, in 1529, described the doorstone as stopping the entrance, ostium habet obtrusum lapide; later writers, including Ployen, in 1839, describe it as standing before the entrance.
Perhaps that shouldn't be given any more credence than the folklore though? as early accounts often get the measurements of the stone completely wrong, and we can be pretty sure those haven't changed at least.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
24th March 2009ce
Edited 12th September 2010ce

There seems no end to the folklore this weird place has inspired:
This extraordinary work has probably been the pastime of some frolicsome shepherd, or secluded devotee; and the history of the stone having been lost, it was natural for the people of a superstitious age and country to apply a fabulous origin both to the stone and its inhabitants, in so retired and lonely place as the vale of Rockwich. The story, therefore, goes, that the Dwarfie-Stone fell from the moon, and that it was once the habitation of a fairy and his wife, a water-kelpie.
'Memoranda from the Note-book of a Traveller' in the Edinburgh Magazine and Literary Miscellany, Jan-June 1822.

Still, it's clear that the stone was a popular tourist spot for travellers, so maybe the guides just told them whatever popped into their heads at the time. I think I would have done the same.

Another strange tale concerns the mountain to the north west, Ward Hill. It's an isolated hill and the highest point on the island.
At the west of this stone stands an exceeding high mountain of a steep ascent, called the Ward-hill of Hoy, near the top of which, in the months of May, June, and July, about midnight, is seen something that shines and sparkles admirably, and which is often seen a great way off. It hath shined more brightly than it does now, and though many have climbed up the hill, and attempted to search for it, yet they could find nothing. The vulgar talk of it as some enchanted carbuncle, but I take it rather to be some water sliding down the face of a smooth rock, which, when the sun, at such a time, shines upon, the reflection causeth that admirable splendour."-- Dr Wallace's Description of the Islands of Orkney, 1700, p52.
I wonder what this can mean, whether it was an ongoing local tale or just an observation. Whichever, I don't like his tone, talking of The Vulgar, and although a carbuncle is a gemstone, you can't shake the feeling he's well aware of its alternative meaning. And he blames it on the sun, and I know it can be quite light at midnight in the north of Scotland, but surely there's not the angle for reflecting to be going on? dunno. It sounds nice though.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
20th February 2009ce
Edited 20th February 2009ce

What was the original use of the cell, or by whom it was made, is unknown. There is, however, in Orkney, a tradition, that a monk from the Western Isles came to Hoy, where he led a recluse life ; and it may be supposed he is the person who hewed this stone into the form of a cell.
Remarks made in a Journey to the Orkney Islands. By Principal Gordon of the Scots College in Paris. p256-268 in Archaeologica Scotica: transactions of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Volume 1 (1792).[...]ch_scot_vol_001/01_256_268.pdf
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
3rd November 2006ce
Edited 16th June 2007ce

The Orkneys had sea-trows and hilltrows. All natural phenomena were regarded as the work of these supernatural agents, to whom worship was offered. A remarkable monument of this worship still remains on the hills of Hoy, the most mountainous of the islands. It is known as the Dwarfie Stone, and consists of a large detached block of sandstone, seven feet in height, twentytwo feet long, and seventeen feet broad. The upper end has been hollowed out by the hands of devotees into a sort of apartment, containing two beds of stone, with a passage between them.

The upper, or longer bed, is 5 ft. 5 in. long by 2 ft. broad, and intended for the dwarf. The lower couch is shorter, and rounded off, instead of being squared, at the corners ; it is intended for the dwarfs wife.

There is an entrance of about three feet and a half square, and a stone lies before it, calculated to fit the opening. Not satisfied with having provided such a solid habitation for the genius loci and his helpmate, the islanders were still in the habit, at no very distant period, of carrying propitiatory gifts to this fetich.
From Notes and Queries, Jan 26th, 1884.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
25th August 2006ce

Sir Walter Scott visited the stone in 1814. He mentions it in chapter 19 of The Pirate:

"The lonely shepherd avoids the place, for at sunrise, high noon, or sunset, the misshapen form of the necromantic owner may sometimes wtill be seen sitting by the Dwarfie Stone."

Later in the book he describes the 'witch' Norna's visits to it to communicate with the troll who lives there.

In the 17th century at least, it was considered to be the home of a giant and his wife, with the stone inside their bed, and a hollowed area in it showing where the pregnant wife slept. Though judging by the size of it, a 'dwarfie' would fit better than a giant!

A late 16th century tradition suggested that the hole in the roof was gnawed by a giant who was trapped inside, after another giant blocked the entrance with a stone.

(info from Grinsell's folklore of prehistoric sites)

An echo is called, in Icelandic, 'dverg-mal' or dwarf-talk, and there is said to be a fine echo from under the Dwarfie Hamars. Then there is Trowie (Troll's) Glen to the westward of the stone. A troll or trow in old Icelandic lore is a huge creature or giant, mostly in an evil sense. Mr Heddle states that Trowie Glen is still considered an uncanny spot, and that people will go a mile or two out of their way rather than pass it after dark. In Jamieson's Scottish Dictionary, under Hill-Trows, it is stated that the superstitious in some places endeavour to bribe the trows by leaving an offering of food for them every night, being persuaded that otherwise they would destroy the family before morning. Probably this accounts for the offerings mentioned by Dr. Clouston as being left in the Dwarfie Stone.
From Alfred W Johnston's 'The 'Dwarfie Stone' of Hoy, Orkney' in the Reliquary for April 1896.

And speaking of echoes, the ones in the tomb itself don't sound much better: check out the tale at the bottom of this Everything2 page
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
12th September 2003ce
Edited 12th September 2010ce

This was known as 'Dvergasteinn' by the Viking raiders who settled on Hoy- the home of dwarfs. Posted by Martin
28th December 2001ce


Add miscellaneous Add miscellaneous
A heads up to look for a 6' sandstone cube ~200 yards to the south - in a 1997 book John Bremner calls this the Patrick Stane and reports the faint presence of cup-and-ring marks on the top wideford Posted by wideford
22nd May 2006ce

Loads of eighteenth and nineteenth century graffiti can be found on the tomb. Canmore mentions that by Major William Mounsey, who was a spy for Britain in Afghanistan and Persia. You can see his name with the date 1850 on the south face, above the sentence 'I have sat two nights and so learnt patience' in fancy Persian calligraphy. This is said to be in reference to the revolting local midges..

Canmore also says:
"30m ESE of the Stone is another big boulder which seems to have been intended as a closing stone; it measures 1.55m by 1.05m by 0.8m and is shaped at one end into a 'stopper' form more neatly than the shaping of the closing stone now in front of the doorway. In a line downslope N by W from the tomb, at 11m, 17m and 19m from it, are massive edge-set boulders. The positioning of these may be fortuitous, but they could conceivably be remnants of an alignment running up to the Stone."
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
24th June 2004ce
Edited 16th March 2005ce


Add a link Add a link

The Cruise of the Betsey

Hugh Millers lovely account of the Dwarfie Stone.
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
15th July 2007ce


Info & pics
Posted by stewartb
4th December 2002ce
Edited 7th March 2003ce


Check out the whole site - excellent local info.
Posted by winterjc
4th December 2001ce

Stone Pages

Good description of site and nice QTVR movie of the Stane and surrounding country
Posted by Martin
31st August 2001ce

Latest posts for the Dwarfie Stane

Showing 1-10 of 11 posts. Most recent first | Next 10

Dwarfie Hamars (Cave / Rock Shelter) — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Dwarfie Hamars</b>Posted by thelonious<b>Dwarfie Hamars</b>Posted by thelonious<b>Dwarfie Hamars</b>Posted by thelonious<b>Dwarfie Hamars</b>Posted by thelonious<b>Dwarfie Hamars</b>Posted by thelonious<b>Dwarfie Hamars</b>Posted by thelonious thelonious Posted by thelonious
14th September 2021ce

Dwarfie Hamars (Cave / Rock Shelter) — Fieldnotes

08/09/2021 – The Dwarfie Hamars are a wonderful backdrop for the Dwarfie Stane.

In an article about the Dwarfie Stane on Orkneyjar they mention a cave high up in the Hamars.

“Could it be that the cave itself, although not necessarily the dwelling place of the workers, was somehow involved in the rituals surrounding the stone?”

Canmore also have this entry –

“A visual assessment and exploration of part of the Hamars led to the discovery of a rock shelter (c9 x 5m and 2.5m high) at the NE end (HY 25013 00479) that may have been used in prehistory. No evidence of occupation was visible on the floor of the shelter but this could be buried below loose rock that has fallen from the roof.”

The Rock Shelter listed on Canmore isn’t the easiest to get to. A little bit of scrambling needed at times. Is it the same place as the cave mentioned on Orkneyjar? Does it have any connection to the people who carved out the Dwarfie Stane? Is it just a coincidence that if you stand in front of the entrance to the Dwarfie Stance and look up you are staring straight towards this Rock Shelter? So many questions about the landscape round the Stane, sure makes you wonder whilst there. It’s one of my favourite areas I think. Just a great place to spend the day looking at stuff.
thelonious Posted by thelonious
14th September 2021ce

Patrick Stone (Natural Rock Feature) — Images

<b>Patrick Stone</b>Posted by thelonious<b>Patrick Stone</b>Posted by thelonious<b>Patrick Stone</b>Posted by thelonious thelonious Posted by thelonious
14th September 2021ce
Showing 1-10 of 11 posts. Most recent first | Next 10