On the southern end of South Ronaldsay, Orkney in Scotland a farmer called Ronnie Simison uncovered an incredible 5000 year old neolithic chambered tomb in 1958 and then spend many years excavating this tomb and recovering a multitude of artefacts. This stoneage tomb, called the Tomb of The Eagles, contained ritualistic remains of human skeletons as well as bones of sea eagles (hence the name of the tomb) as well as many other interesting artefacts. The excavations at this site have revealed fascinating discoveries of how people lived and worked in Orkney some 5000 years ago.
The stone chamber contained around 30 human skulls as well as talons and bones of an estimated 14 white-tailed sea eagles.
The tomb site is located on top of steep sea cliffs and to get to the site you have to walk about 1 mile from the Visitors Centre.
After an informative presentation in the centre and a look at all the skulls and artifacts you take a well marked path to the site. Along the way you will also pass a 3000 year old Bronze Age site which has also been excavated.
At this Bronze Age site you will also see a World War II relic – an old German ambulance which had been converted into a mobile home and toured across the Sahara Desert. It was later recycled and used as a shelter for Ronnie Simison during his tour guiding days.
As you continue along the path at the top of the cliffs and you will eventually reach a cairn and a small standing stone which marks the location of the chambered tomb.
Once you reach the site of the Tomb of The Eagles there is only a small opening (28″ x 33″) at the base from where you can enter the covered tomb by a 3m long tunnel. To aid visitors to enter there is now a small trolley which you lie on and pull yourself through to the inside of the tomb using a rope tethered to the roof on the entranceway. Incredibly, my mother of 86 years managed to do this as you can see in the photo strip below!
Once inside the tomb you can stand up comfortably and here you can see the many chambers where all the bones and artifacts were recovered from.
Walking back along the cliff-top path you get wonderful views over the sea and in Summer the cliff-tops are covered in colourful wild flowers. Wildlife can include a large variety of birds, the Common Blue Butterfly, common and grey seals and occasionally Orca.
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