Orkney: Maes Howe

Maes Howe is yet another Neolithic site and this one is by far the most spectacular and impressive. It’s a huge tomb burial chamber inside a mound, built sometimes around 2800 BC. What looks like a simple mound of grass on the outside is an elaborate stone structure with narrow access and square space inside with sophisticated stone construction. Some of the stone slabs inside weigh up to 30 tons and it’s estimated it took 100,000 man-hours to build this enormous monument (for that time). It is the largest Neolithic tomb in Orkney and one of the largest and most sophisticated in the world (hence the UNESCO designation). You can visit it only on an organized tour, once a day. It takes a crawl through a very narrow claustrophobic stone passage to get into the chamber (no photography is allowed inside so the internal chamber pics are from the open internet sources). The chamber is quite impressive in its engineering grandeur of interlocking stone slabs. It does feel like some sort of “grand Neolithic cathedral”. Bizarrely, the entrance passage is 54 feet long and is built to aim directly at a megalithic stone 2772 feet away, that is illuminated by sun at solstice (structure and measurements having a lot of similarities with the Pyramid of Giza in Egypt). The passage points to the same northern star as the Egyptian pyramids. Also, apparently vikings entered the tomb sometime in the 12th century and inscribed the stone slabs with graffiti (aka runes), that actually told a lot about the viking culture on the island.