- Midhowe Cairn - Chambered Tomb | 2024 Archive

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Midhowe Cairn - Rousay, Orkney
Chambered Tomb
National Grid Reference: HY 372 304

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How To Get There

This tomb is situated just a few yards away from Midhowe Broch on Rousay. From Trumland follow the B9064 to the west. The site is well signed and there is parking by the roadside. You will need to walk for about half a mile down a somewhat steep hill to reach the cairn. The monument is protected under a huge stone shed.

Many of the tombs that I visited on the Orkney Islands had protective concrete domes over them. On the whole I found that this didn't get in the way of enjoying the monuments. Midhowe Cairn is in a league of its own though. Here the entire structure has been surrounded by a stone building reminiscent of a barn or aircraft hanger. The remaining stones of the cairn are fragile so visitors can get no closer than the fences. A series of walkways are suspended overhead which actually allow quite a good look at things - but it is tantalising to be so close and yet not able to climb inside the thing!

Midhowe is by far the largest stalled cairn that I saw in Orkney. The main chamber is all of 23 metres long, housing 12 compartments. The walls, now bare of earth, still stand to 2.5 metres high; the removal of the earth mound allows the visitor to see more clearly the methods of construction. The outer face of the cairn might well have been visible when first built as there is a lovely "herring-bone" pattern in the stone work which would surely have taken too much trouble to build and then cover over?

Nearby Sites

Midhowe Broch
Knowe of Yarso
Taversoe Tuick

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This prehistoric site has been rescued for historical reasons by History X's archive