• Tue. Mar 21st, 2023

The Enigma of the Dwarfie Stane, Ancient Tomb of Orkney


Mar 16, 2023

There’s something about Orkney that evokes nice thriller in any customer. It’s an historic place – located only a “stone’s throw” north of Scotland – and it boasts a wealthy historical past that reaches far again in time. One in all its historic relics is the Dwarfie Stane, a fairly enigmatic prehistoric tomb that sits within the solitude of Hoy Island. Who carved it, and whose stays rested inside it, we have no idea. However that enigma simply opens an entire world of potentialities, and shortly stirs the imaginative thoughts.

The Dwarfie Stane is one in all Orkney’s Most Helpful Historical Relics

In the event you occur to wander within the desolate landscapes of Hoy Island, Orkney’s second largest, you would possibly stumble throughout a large glaciated valley, roughly in its center. Sitting between the small settlements of Rackwick and Quoys, it’s a inexperienced and barren place, with steep sides and barely clinging mist that drifts throughout the panorama. This valley is a very solitary place – it’s not way more than desolate peatland, however it’s charming, nonetheless. And proper in its middle lies the dormant Dwarfie Stane, its sleep undisturbed for 1000’s of years.

The stone is in actual fact a fairly giant and virtually naturally rectangular piece of Devonian Outdated Crimson Sandstone, positioned there by the artistic hand of mom nature, tens of millions of years in the past. And a few of Hoy’s historic inhabitants noticed it as a really perfect place for a tomb. The stone is a glacial erratic – i.e., a stone that’s glacially deposited and differs from the rock’s native to the realm. That’s precisely why it seems to “stick out” from the panorama. It measures 8.6 meters (28 ft) in size, and 4 meters (13 ft) in width. Barely slanted, it’s round 2.5 meters excessive (8.2 ft) at its highest finish.

Dwarfie Stane, Hoy, Orkney, Scotland. Southern cell. (Otter/ CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Seeing it, one might simply overlook the truth that it’s a chambered tomb. On one in all its wider sides there’s a small hand-carved entrance – a 1 meter (3.3 ft) sq., that opens into a really small tomb house. From the doorway is a small passage, 2.2 meters (7.2 ft) lengthy, with two cells on the sides. The cells measure roughly 1.7 meters by 1 meter (5.6 ft by 3.3 ft). The peak of the ceiling is simply 1 meter (3.3 ft), that means that anybody coming into must both be on their knees or actually bent over.

The Remaining Resting Place of an Unknown Prehistoric Particular person

To at the present time, it’s not recognized who might need eternally rested on this distinctive tomb. The tomb house has been carved with plenty of endurance and precision – its sides are completely easy, with small ridges and grooves within the house the place the deceased could be laid down. The appropriate cell even has a “pillow” – a small piece of uncut rock at its interior finish. Both means, it’s sure that the tomb builders paid plenty of care and a focus when carving the tomb. However it will need to have been a tedious and grueling job, for the reason that Outdated Crimson Sandstone has been described as “extraordinarily compact” and laborious. And the one instruments obtainable then have been product of stone and deer antler. This truth makes the creation of Dwarfie Stane a feat of awe-inspiring proportions!

The Dwarfie Stane has many legends related to it. Simply because the title suggests, a neighborhood legend states {that a} Dwarf by the title Trollid lived inside it, whereas one other – in a fairly comical distinction – states that the tomb was constructed by giants. In fact, it was the work of neither dwarves nor giants, however of Orkney’s Neolithic inhabitants.

The age of the tomb has been estimated at 3,000 years outdated or extra. Who was it for will not be recognized, maybe an historic chieftain of Hoy – or a Bronze Age chief of the native tribes. As soon as the deceased was positioned inside, the tomb was sealed with an amazing sq. slab, which now lies on the entrance of the rock.

Alas, someday within the passing centuries the tomb turned the goal of grave robbers. As an alternative of pushing the nice slab apart, they carved a gap within the tomb ceiling, plundering no matter lay inside. This gap has been repaired in fashionable instances.

So Easy – But So Distinctive

The simplicity of Dwarfie Stane hides its true uniqueness. One curious facet is its similarity to tombs in Southern Europe, within the Mediterranean. Many students proposed that it’s the try “at imitation” of Mediterranean tombs, however this concept has been dismissed. It’s agreed that the tomb is of native inspiration, and no proof exists that it has any direct hyperlinks to Mediterranean-type tombs. Nonetheless, the Dwarfie Stane is taken into account the one instance of a Neolithic rock-cut tomb in the entire of Britain. This truth alone makes it very distinctive. Nonetheless, regardless of this uniqueness, the Dwarfie Stane continues to be according to the Orkney-Cromarty sort of chambered tombs which might be discovered on Orkney. However all the opposite tombs are product of many stones stacked, fairly than carved out from a single stone slab as right here.

The Dwarfie Stane was at all times a preferred attraction within the area. Over the centuries many guests carved crude graffiti, few of which may nonetheless be learn at this time. A notable customer was Captain William Mounsey, who visited in 1850 and left an inscription in Persian:

“I’ve sat two nights and so learnt endurance”.

This is an inscription in Persian was left by captain William Henry Mounsey of Castletown and Rockcliffe, who camped here in 1850, and reads: "I have sat two nights and so learnt patience". Above the Persian is his name written backwards in Latin. The complete text is "YESNVOM SVMLEILVC". Visible here is "ELMVS MOVNSEY"; in mirror writing: "YESNVOM SVMLE". (Bruce McAdam/CC BY-SA 2.0)

That is an inscription in Persian was left by captain  William Henry Mounsey  of Castletown and Rockcliffe, who camped right here in 1850, and reads: “I’ve sat two nights and so learnt endurance”. Above the Persian is his title written backwards in  Latin. The entire textual content is “YESNVOM SVMLEILVC”. Seen right here is “ELMVS MOVNSEY”; in mirror writing: “YESNVOM SVMLE”. (Bruce McAdam/ CC BY-SA 2.0 )

And though it’s considerably easy at first look, the Dwarfie Stane is however an extremely vital piece of Orkney’s distant historical past, and a charming relic of the Stone Age individuals who lived there.

Prime picture: ‘Dwarfie Stane’ (Dwarf’s Stone) on the  Island of Hoy Orkney Islands , Scotland  Supply: Grovel at English Wikipedia/ CC BY 3.0

By Aleksa Vučković

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