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TITLE
General View of Maeshowe
EXTERNAL ID
QZP40_2471_1862-1864_P248A
PLACENAME
Maeshowe
DISTRICT
Mainland Orkney
DATE OF IMAGE
1864
PERIOD
1860s
CREATOR
A Gibb
SOURCE
Highland Libraries
ASSET ID
31541
KEYWORDS
mounds
burial
rituals
chambered cairns
archaeology
Maes Howe
General View of Maeshowe

Maeshowe is a Neolithic burial chamber on the Orkney mainland. The mound has a diameter of 115ft (35m) at the base and is over 24ft (7m) high. It was constructed before 2700BC and is made from stone slabs, some of which weigh up to 30 tonnes.

The purpose of the tomb is unclear. Only a few fragments of bone were discovered when the mound was excavated, which suggests that bones were not stored inside on a long-term basis. The alignment of the tomb may have served as some form of calendar. At sunset on midwinter's day the light shines straight down the entrance passage and onto a small area on the rear wall. Living so far north would mean it was extremely important to know when the days were going to start getting longer again.

Maeshowe fell into disuse but was reopened in the 12th century by Vikings. The evidence of their visit can be seen in the runic graffiti carved on the walls. The carvings include 'Ottarfila carved these runes' and 'Haermund Hardaxe carved these runes'. The graffiti also suggests that there had been treasure in the mound but that the Vikings had carried it away. The Vikings visit caused the roof to collapse and the mound was not reopened until the 19th century.

This illustration can be found in vol.V of the 'Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries in Scotland', 1860-1862

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General View of Maeshowe

1860s

mounds; burial; rituals; chambered cairns; archaeology; Maes Howe

Highland Libraries

Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (illustrations)

Maeshowe is a Neolithic burial chamber on the Orkney mainland. The mound has a diameter of 115ft (35m) at the base and is over 24ft (7m) high. It was constructed before 2700BC and is made from stone slabs, some of which weigh up to 30 tonnes. <br /> <br /> The purpose of the tomb is unclear. Only a few fragments of bone were discovered when the mound was excavated, which suggests that bones were not stored inside on a long-term basis. The alignment of the tomb may have served as some form of calendar. At sunset on midwinter's day the light shines straight down the entrance passage and onto a small area on the rear wall. Living so far north would mean it was extremely important to know when the days were going to start getting longer again.<br /> <br /> Maeshowe fell into disuse but was reopened in the 12th century by Vikings. The evidence of their visit can be seen in the runic graffiti carved on the walls. The carvings include 'Ottarfila carved these runes' and 'Haermund Hardaxe carved these runes'. The graffiti also suggests that there had been treasure in the mound but that the Vikings had carried it away. The Vikings visit caused the roof to collapse and the mound was not reopened until the 19th century.<br /> <br /> This illustration can be found in vol.V of the 'Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries in Scotland', 1860-1862