Friday, 22 June 2012

Orkneys-- Tombs of the Eagles

The main island of Orkney (called "Mainland") is littered with Neolithic historical sites.  You can't drive more than a few miles without seeing evidence of something.  People are finding hidden treasures, big or small,  on their land nearly every day.  So much so that there isn't enough time or resources to excavate them all.  Here is a story of what one man found on his property, and despite telling the authorities and waiting 18 years for archeologists to arrive, did to uncover an amazing 5000 year old tomb.

Tomb of the Eagles

This site is privately run as after the land owner waited 18 years for the local authority to act he decided to hire archeology students on his own to uncover his discovery.  He watched what they did and read everything he could about archeology so that he could continue the work after the students left.  What they found was amazing.

They found several skeletons but interestingly the skulls were kept in a separate compartment then the other bones.  It is believe that these people often left the body out in the open where the birds or other wildlife would pick the bones clean of skin, meat etc.  This is similar to the modern-day Sky Burial practiced in Tibet or the Towers of Silence practiced by Zoroastrians in modern-day India.  Then the bones were placed in the tomb

They found lots of beads, what was interesting at this site was the employee allowed the visitors to hold these items and we were told they were not copies but the original 5000 year old item.  Also found in this tomb, was eagle talons, hence the name.

The tomb is on a cliff and overlooks the North sea

The door way is so small you have to either crawl on your hands and knees or use a wheeled cart to push your way thru.  The entrance is about 4 feet long.
Daddy coming thru

Little Man's method of exiting
Princess's method -- there is no way to do this gracefully :)

Inside the tomb.  Lots of hidden compartments, everything has been removed from it

the compartment where they found the human skulls, these are replicate and behind plexiglass

empty room

After uncovering this site the land owner than found a Bronze Age site that he is still in the process of excavating on his own.  Just another amazing story we uncovered while touring around the island.


  1. This is really cool. We studyed the Celts. Were they the people who lived here? I would love to visit this site.

    1. I made a mistake in my email to you with further research, my husband says this was even earlier then Celts. there is just a little know about these people:)

  2. It is amazing to me that relics of this caliber are so common that no one bothered to come out for eighteen years!!!! Amazing!

  3. Wow! This is absolutely amazing! I am so intrigued and inspired by all that you've found on your trip, and I can only imagine wealth of knowledge your children are getting exposed to, let alone the hands-on experiences! I love finding you on NOBH! ;)
    Love and God Bless,

  4. WOW!!!! I'm putting this site on my MUST VISIT list! So cool!

  5. Absolutely fascinating! You always find the most amazing sites to visit!!!