Maeshowe Neolithic Site

Maeshowe Neolithic Site, Orkney, Scotland

This evening, the focus of my blog is one of Scotland’s Prehistoric site, namely Maeshowe on Orkney.

The structure dates from the Neolithic era (New Stone Age), around 3000BC and hence is some 5000 years old. Maeshowe is considered the finest chambered tomb in north-west Europe. To mind there are strong similarities with Newgrange in Ireland. I am also mindful of the social organisation in those far off days which must have been capable of marshalling a huge workforce at a time when the early people were living close to the environment and were restricted to just stone tools and, possibly, no wheeled vehicles.

In essence Maeshowe consists of a grassy mound (35m acros and 7m high) situated on a large circular platform surrounded by a ditch beyond which is a earthen bank.

Incredibly, the interior has remained watertight over the millennia. No photographs of the interior are permitted. Inside the mound is a small room measuring 4.7m in diameter  and 4.5 high, probabably intended for burials.

Like many other monuments from this era (incl Stonehenge), the passageway is aligned with sunset three weeks before and after Dec 21st (the shortest day).

From the runic carvings in the interior, it is evident that Vikings penetrated the interior in the middle of the 12thcentury AD. The Norsemen called the site Orkahaugr.

The interior is accessed via a 10m long stone passage (below).

Entrance Passage, Maeshowe

Entrance Passage, Maeshowe, Orkney

Elsewhere today, I have primarily focused on arranging a self-drive tour of Scotland and Ireland plus a tour into the Highlands at the weekend for a group of thirteen.

I found the weather incredibly cold for the time of year; at least we seem to be over the worst of the strong winds but temperature adjusted for wind chill is about zero C.

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