Something old, something new

WEDNESDAY
Back to the stone-age with a visit to another couple of tombs, both similar but with subtle differences to make them unique.
The first one was the Tomb of the Eagles, so called because along with human remains were found many bones and talons of Sea Eagles. Neolithic tombs were not designed for the burial of whole corpses but selected bones only. This means that bodies would have primarily been de-fleshed, one method being to place the body out in the open to allow birds to carry this out.

stone age Burial

It is suspected that the Sea Eagle may have been the totem of this particular settlement. The visitor centre at this tomb was great! The staff were enthusiastic and there were lots of artefacts from the tomb, some which we could handle. On the same site a bronze-age building has also been found and is a suspected cook-house. There’s a deep hearth (covered), stone seats along the walls of the structure, a fresh water supply, which you can see in the picture, an internal well and a drain to take used water away.

Bronze age cook house

There are even a couple of prehistoric kitchen utensils!

mortar and pestle

As for the tomb, no crouching on this occasion but a state of the art transport device consisting of a trolley and rope!

Indiana Jones?

Tomb of the eagles

Inside there were burial chambers at either end and to the sides. You can see entrances to side chambers low down on either side of Kevin. Obviously concrete wasn’t a stone age invention, but this roof was constructed to protect the ruins. The original roof would have been corbelled as we had seen in Maeshowe.

Tomb of the eagles

tomb of the eagles

Not far away is another tomb: The Tomb of the Otters. This one is a relatively new discovery, unearthed during excavations for a new car park for a lovely wee bistro ‘next door’! I couldn’t get pictures of this one as it was quite small inside and five of us filled it! The entrance to this tomb was a hands and knees job! Here the bones and dung of otters accompanied human remains so perhaps we can surmise that the otter was the totem of this settlement.

Moving from pre-history into more modern historical times, on our way home to Peedie Hoose we visited an unusual church.

church

This is essentially a Nissan hut which housed Italian prisoners of war. Winston Churchill had these men construct several ‘Churchill Barriers’. These were built with massive concrete blocks to prevent U-boats entering the Scappa Flow, a safe haven for the British fleet. These barriers are now used as causeways between some of the Orkney Islands.

Churchill barrier

churchill barrier

In order to maintain the morale of the prisoners, they were allowed to convert the hut into a church, using only discarded materials at hand. This surely has to be some of the most beautiful re-cycling ever! The artwork is stunning.

italian church

Italian church

italian church

italian church

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