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Dwarfie Stane

Rock-cut Tomb, Orkney

A tomb cut inside
this huge boulder
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An isolated sandstone block situated under an imposing cliff at one edge of a huge glacial valley. There are views in both directions down the valley towards the Orkney Mainland, and to the sea. A square entrance has been cut into the block, with a block appearing to fit the entrance just outside. This sealed the tomb until at least the sixteenth century. Inside the tomb are two cells separated from the entrance by distinct square kerbs (visible in the interior photograph below). There are other carved features inside including a raised "pillow", although the kerbs make it impossible to lie down comfortably inside.

In folklore Trollid, a dwarf famous in the northern sagas was said to live in the tomb - as mentioned in Scott's "The Pirate".

Originally thought to be derived from the rock-cut tombs of Malta and elsewhere, the style is now believed to be of  local origin, similar to the lower chambers of Taversoe Tuick on the nearby island of Rousay.


Access: Signposted from the road leading to Rackwick, where the walk to the "Old Man of Hoy" begins , most visitors to Hoy will pass within 1/4 of a mile of this monument so it is well worth a detour.

Rating: General Impression 4, Ambience 4, Access 3

Personal: Hoy is the only mountainous island in the Orkneys, and is also worth visiting for the naval museum amongst other things. It even has a telecottage! The northen end, where the Dwarfie stane is situated is sparsely populated and feels very remote.

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