A Travellodge for the dead

One of the biggest surprises that we encountered on Rousay was the Midhowe Chambered Cairn. This was by far the largest chambered cairn that I have ever seen and so important was it that a protective enclosure was built over it to preserve it from the elements.

The cairn dates to around 3500 BC and to quote the Orkneyjar web site

“The remains of 25 individuals – 17 adults, six youths and two children under four  – were found on the floor of the cairn. The corpses had been placed with their backs to the eastern wall, thus facing the central passage. Those at the southern end of the cells lay on their left side and those at the northern end on their right. Most of the skeletal remains had been deposited on the top of the low shelves, between the divisional slabs.

Only four deposits were found under the shelves and three on the floor, without any structural arrangements.

Because no human remains were found in the first four cells, it was suggested that bodies were placed in the cells near the entrance and left till the flesh had rotted away. Some time later, the bones were collected and deposited further inside the structure.”

Midhowe cairn, Rousay

Midhowe cairn, Rousay

Midhowe cairn, Rousay


Three thousand BC!

Mair tae follow nae doot…


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