Maeshowe - Photo HES

Opening access to the past

By Published On: 17th May 20221.3 min readCategories: History, Travel

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It may appear little more than an anonymous grassy knoll but beneath a mound of earth in the middle of a field lies one of Orkney’s most renowned prehistoric sites, dating back more than 5,000 years.

Maeshowe, which derives its name from the Old Norse word ‘howe’ meaning hill, is the finest surviving Neolithic structure in north-west Europe, a masterpiece of design and construction by a long gone civilisation.

Created as a burial site the chambered cairn is accessed by a long passageway, that visors have to stoop to navigate, before opening up into an impressive central stone-built chamber.

Located in one of the richest Neolithic landscapes in Europe - a place of stone circles, villages and burial mounds - Maeshowe is a central part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site. Along with other local Neolithic period sites such as the Stones of Steness, Ring of Brodgar and Skara Brae village it provides a unique opportunity to explore thousands of years of history.

Now, as the worst of the Covid pandemic comes to an end, the attraction has been reopened by its guardians, Historic Environment Scotland, to the public in readiness for this summer’s expected influx of tourists to Orkney.

“With over 5,000 years of history in our care we are looking forward to welcoming visitors back to enjoy more and more of Scotland’s world class historic environment,” said Stephen Duncan, Director of Marketing and Engagement at HES.

Photo above - Maeshowe. Photo HES