Mine Howe

[Entrance to Mine Howe]

Mine Howe rose to fame in 1999 when the local landowner uncovered the entrance to a subterranean chamber on a mound in a field in Tankerness. Once excavated, one of Orkney's greatest enigmas was revealed. No fewer than 29 steps descend steeply into the ground, doubling back on themselves halfway down at an intermediate chamber, and terminating at a further small chamber twenty feet below surface level. The TV series Time Team were called during the following year, with tours exploring the so-called Mystery of the Twenty-Nine Steps commencing soon after, as well as a small exhibition housed in a portacabin. Sadly funding or wider interest must have dried up, and the now rusting information centre's been closed for the last few years. Nevertheless, the steps - which experts now believe to be iron-age in origin and serving some sort of ritual function - were still open and accessible (with care), at least when we visited in July 2016. Ironically, while the original parts have survived fine for thousands of years, the decade-old additions at the entrance aren't in great condition, not helped by being open to the elements. So the advice is: just Mine Howe you go...


[View upwards from the bottom of the steps]

Name: Mine Howe ★★☆☆
Location: G.R.: HY 511060 / monitors galaxies handrail
Open: Always (though officially closed)
Cost: Free
Anything else? No longer a maintained site, the extremely steep and uneven steps are likely to be wet and slippery. Torch essential.

[Looking down from the middle level]

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