On the Scottish island of Mainland in the Orkneys is Maeshowe, a tomb dating from the Stone Age. It is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site as part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney. The tomb was erected 5,000 years ago. The word Howe means a hill in Old Norse, but the meaning of the word Maes is unknown. (Although incidentally the Welsh word maes means a field)
The burial mound has a diameter of 35 metres and a height of 7 metres. The entrance passage leading to the chamber is 10 metres long. The chamber is almost 5 metres in diameter and 4.5 metres high.
Light on the shortest day
The entrance is aligned so that three weeks before 21 December and three weeks after 21 December daylight shines into the tomb and illumines the back of the tomb.
This legend tells that in 1153 a Viking named Harald Maddadarson and 100 followers opened the tomb in search of treasure. Evidence for this is found in eight drawings and 30 rune inscriptions which tell the story. This site contains the largest collection of rune inscriptions found outside Scandinavia.
Ireland Rd, Stennes, Stromness KW16 3LB, Verenigd Koninkrijk
Translation Alun Harvey