Back to Neolithic times on Orkney and a visit to the Tomb of the Eagles, also known as Isbister Chambered Cairn. The common name came about because the tomb contained the remains of up to 14 white-tailed sea eagles alongside nearly 16,000 human bones.
Situated at the southern end of South Ronaldsay (accessible via the Churchill Barriers I wrote about recently), you will find a fascinating visitor centre which takes a good couple of hours to cycle through before you set off on the mile long walk to visit the tomb itself. The centre is packed with artefacts from the Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Bronze Ages which, unusually, visitors can, under close supervision, handle. Holding implements used by early human beings is an experience I struggle to express, just let me say it imparts a deep sensation of awe.
The centre is manned by archaeological experts, and split into three rooms, one for each period, with an informative talk in each, followed by the hands-on experience, which is why it can take so long. Of course you could simply hike out to the sites, but you would miss a fantastic learning experience.
First discovered in 1958, there is both a Bronze Age site and the cairn itself. The farmer who made the find, Ronnie Simison, and his family ran the site since it was opened to the public in the late 70s, witness this original vehicle remnant (with a history of its own!) alongside the first site you come to: what is believed to be a Bronze Age sweat lodge.
The tomb itself sits atop the cliffs, and is accessed by a spectacular walk.
IF you didn’t know what you were looking for, you might miss the tomb, built into the side of the hill as it is.
What is that strange contraption with wheels covering the entrance, you may ask yourself, all shall be revealed in a moment…
The interior configuration was becoming quite familiar by now
But the first time we’d seen this slightly creepy type of exhibit
So here is the answer to the presence of the trolley
Now that was fun!
Once back outside there is an alternative coastal walk back to the car park, well worth the extra time.
Yes it was windy, but that’s pretty normal for Orkney. To round things off nicely, in addition to some cute, active little birds and pretty wildflowers, the beach at the end of this cove was being used by an inquisitive pair of seals.