Maeshowe is the most awe-inspiring chambered tomb anywhere in Europe, 35 metres around, 7 metres high... and 5,000 years old of course. Awe-inspiring might seem a strange world to describe a dark burial mound, but the experience of a guided tour into the central chamber was enough to make us, and other visitors, gasp in amazement. "Neolithic Cathedral" has been used to describe the perfectly constructed interior and side chambers, in superb condition apart from the roof. This was broken by Viking crusaders in the mid-1100's, who left a stunning, and amusing, collection of graffiti on the stonework. Meanwhile, the long entrance passage (claustrophobics beware) is aligned exactly with the winter solstice sunset, allowing the interior to be illuminated by sunlight once a year if the weather plays ball. Nearby the mound is Tormiston Mill, a minor attraction in its own right which used to be Maeshowe's visitor centre.
|[Approach to Maeshowe]|
Name: Maeshowe Chambered Cairn ★★★★★
Description: Europe's finest chambered cairn, 5,000 years old with the interior also covered in Viking runes.
Location: A965 just north-east of Stenness, G.R.: HY 318128 / paradise natural steady
Open (2017): Daily, by booked guided tour only from a new visitor centre in Stenness - see local signage
Cost (2017): £6 (adults), £3.60 (children), free for Historic Environment Scotland members
Name: Tormiston Mill ★★☆☆☆
Description: Victorian meal mill, formerly also doubling as Maeshowe's visitor centre.
Location: A965 just north-east of Stenness, G.R.: HY 319126 / restored intrigued spend
Open (2017): Daily, but temporaily closed from September 2016 until further notice for health and safety reasons.