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

Fieldnotes by JCHC

Latest Posts

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.

Broch of Borwick

It's in the guide books and on the maps.

Positioned on a colapsing cliff face, the rear of the Broch is lost but here's the front. You can step inside and see a few wall chambers, although a lot of the structure is collapsed.

Stop at Yesnaby for a perfect place to open up that flask of tea and have a sandwich.

Getting there:

The easiest way to get there is by parking up at Yesnaby just off the B9056 south of Skara Brae, you'll see the sign post. Once there, get out and walk north along the coastal cliff face till you see the Broch itself beside a small stack.

Watch out for randy bulls!

The Dwarfie Stane (Chambered Tomb)

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.

The Fairy Knowe (Chambered Cairn)

A lot like Maes Howe but smaller, this tomb has the same distinct build of staggered walls. By this I mean that the stones that make up the walls are placed in such a way that makes the tomb taper towards the ceiling. Like a pyramid. Maes Howe uses the same design, so maybe the two are linked in someway?

A torch is left outside for visitors to use. You have to crawl through a 2-3m passage to get in, on hands and knees. This tomb seems to have it's original ceiling of stone and has 4 cells.

Careful when standing on the top of the tomb. Best not to really!!

Excellent view from the opening of the tomb, as it is positioned on Cuween Hill overlooking the Holm of Grimbister next to Finstown. See photo.

Getting there:

Can be reached by car, and then a short walk up the hill to the tomb. Heading towards Kirkwall on the A956 look for the turning towards Grimbister just after Finstown, then watch for the sign.
JCHC hasn't added a profile

My TMA Content: